In 1971, Katie Lee moved to Jerome, Arizona. She purchased a house at 810 Hampshire Avenue, where she lived until her death in 2017.
Over the years, Lee’s house was painted turquoise, sculptures and wood carvings were added to the exterior, and the iconic “Sing” sign was placed above the door carved by Lee’s mother, Ruth. The house can be seen from most places in the town and has a great view of the Verde Valley.
In her will, Lee left her house and her archival materials to Northern Arizona University, with the understanding the proceeds from the house’s sale would fund the preservation of Colorado River-related collections. The house has recently been purchased, and its new owners have decided to keep it looking as it was when Katie was alive. A replica “Sing” sign has been commissioned to fill the space where the original used to hang.
After the death of a close friend and neighbor named Harvey, Lee took her infamous naked bicycle ride through Jerome. In the middle of the summer, Lee rode to the top of Main Street, took her clothes off, and rode down the hill. Her full account of the event can be read here.
Jerome and Katie
During Lee’s time there, Jerome changed drastically, from sleepy ghost town to a booming tourist destination, As Jerome grew, the energy of the town shifted. Lee objected to many of these changes. She was vocal about how tourists were affecting the town, particularly motorcyclists, who she felt were loud and inconsiderate. As in most other aspects of her life, Lee was outspoken about what she believed should be changed or prevented in Jerome. (See NAU.MS.387, Series 2, Subseries 2 at Special Collections and Archives for Katie Lee’s letters and correspondence concerning Jerome.)
A tribute to Lee was installed in the Jerome Historical Society’s Mining Museum. At the museum, visitors can see the history of Jerome and learn about important figures and events in the town’s past. The exhibit on Lee features images, 3D objects, and a slideshow showcasing Katie Lee and her songs. To learn more about the Jerome Historical Society, visit here.