American poet Philip Levine’s California home for sale

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Nestled among orange trees in one of Fresno’s oldest residential neighborhoods, 4549 North Van Ness Blvd. Since the early 1970s, it has been the home of former American Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Levine and his family. Now this piece of literary history is up for sale, asking for $500,000.

The home is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom bungalow that is 1,599 square feet in size. Built in the 1920s, it is one of the original homes in Old Fig Garden and boasts the graceful property lines that characterize early single-family homes in Fresno. The land of over 3/4 acres includes lawns, gardens and lemon trees. These trees bore locally famous oranges during the tenancy of Philip Levine and his wife France Levine.

“Our mother always gave those oranges,” her son Ted Levine told SFGATE. “She would put them in the letterbox for the postman.”

The dining room overlooks the backyard.

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One of the three bedrooms in the house.

One of the three bedrooms in the house.

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Phillip and Frances lived in the house during the height of Philip Levine’s literary prowess. Shortly after completing a Jones Fellowship at Stanford University, Levine began teaching at Fresno State University, where he would remain until 1992, although he also taught at UC Berkeley, as well as Columbia, Princeton, New York University, Brown and Tufts. Levine served on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets from 2000 to 2006 and was nominated for a two-year term as American Poet Laureate in 2011. His work has been widely praised throughout his life, including the National Book Award for Poetry in 1980 and 1991 and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1995.

A view of the Old Fig Garden house bathroom.

A view of the Old Fig Garden house bathroom.

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Frances Levine, known as Franny to those who knew her well, was “in her own right, a painter and sketchbook designer, a gardener, a chef and cookbook author, and a community volunteer,” according to her obituary, as well as an avid Fresno State supporter and contributor. Philip Levine passed away in 2015 and Frances Levine passed away last June.

The back of the house has a small terrace.

The back of the house has a small terrace.

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A view of the vast backyard.

A view of the vast backyard.

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It might seem distant to read about a Fresno property, even one that housed such literary history, but consider this: In March 2021, the Los Angeles Times reported that the hottest market in the country was Fresno, California. In July 2022, Fresno home prices were up 11.9% from 2021, selling at a median price of $375,000.

The very office where Philip Levine listened to jazz and wrote award-winning poetry.

The very office where Philip Levine listened to jazz and wrote award-winning poetry.

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As the median home price in San Francisco hits $2 million, you can buy a three-bedroom home, where Philip Levine wrote award-winning poetry from his study, on nearly an acre of landscaped grounds, and you can do it for $500,000.

The house is nestled in the old Fresno Fig Garden.  In March 2021, the Los Angeles Times said the hottest market in the country was Fresno.

The house is nestled in the old Fresno Fig Garden. In March 2021, the Los Angeles Times said the hottest market in the country was Fresno.

MK Fresno Photo


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