Dan Fowler was in French Lick, Ind., for work when he and his wife spotted a For Sale sign in front of one of the most recognizable houses in town.
"I joked with her: 'Want to buy Larry Bird's house?' " Dan said. "We're both spontaneous people. We walked in, realized it was affordable and we bought it."
For a long time, Fowler has been a successful sales rep for Sentry Roofing in Danville. But today he's better known as the guy who bought a legend's childhood home, backboard-on-the-garage and all.
The Fowlers didn't do it out of admiration for the Celtics or No. 33 (they prefer college basketball to the NBA). "We saw it as an opportunity," said Fowler, who said it will eventually be used as a "second home and a vacation rental."
The purchase was the easy part. Restoring what had become a run-down property was the challenge, so much so that Fowler moved his family to French Lick for nearly a year.
In August, renovation work will wrap up and Fowler's three children will be back in Danville District 118 schools.
As for the backboard that Bird targeted as a child? It will be displayed in a shadow box inside the house, Fowler said, which is along the popular French Lick Railway.
"They say 55,000 people ride that train every year and you'd be amazed how many people take pictures of the house and how many actually will circle the house in their cars and get out and take pictures," he said.
Fowler should know. He was on the train when he first noticed the For Sale sign.
Now he's considered a regular in French Lick. A trend-setter, too.
"The fire chief is my neighbor," Fowler said. "He keeps telling me, since I bought Larry's house, that he's coming to Danville. He wants me to show him Dick Van Dyke's childhood home so he can buy that."