GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — The Judy Garland Museum is asking supporters for donations toward the $125,000 purchase of a half-acre parcel of land immediately adjacent to Garland’s childhood home on Minnesota State Road 169. According to Janie Heitz, the museum’s executive director, the museum has until November 4 to match a cash offer that’s currently on the table.
“When you’re in Judy Garland’s house, you can look outside and see green spaces, as was likely the case when she resided in the house,” Heitz said, reached by phone Friday. “I can understand why anyone would want the property. It’s very beautiful. It’s a beautiful place, so it would be sad for us to lose that green space.”
The museum, founded in 1975, owned the 0.62 acre lot until just over a decade ago, Heitz said. At that time, when the United States was reeling from what is now known as the Great Recession, the museum sold the plot to raise funds to make mortgage payments.
The owners allowed the museum to continue using the land for outdoor events, and the terms of the sale gave the museum a right of first refusal should the land change hands again, Heitz said. “The owners of the property have been wonderful,” Heitz said. “It’s just time for them to sell. They want to retire.”
Heitz did not name the owners, and real estate agent Denise M. Green, who is handling the sale, said it would not be appropriate for her to identify them publicly. Itasca County records indicate that the owners mailing address is a PO Box in Idaho. A
describes the land as “beautiful commercial land with great commercial exposure”.
The museum had known for several months that the owners planned to sell, according to Heitz, and hoped to finance the purchase with funds from
This year. Now, “a full cash offer” from another buyer has the museum scrambling for funds.
“I have about $50,000 in commitments,” Heitz said. “We are almost halfway there. We are looking for private donors.” As of Friday afternoon, a
generated donations of $1,680.
The museum has, on the whole, done well, Heitz said. “The centennial celebration was very successful,” she said, referring to the commemoration in June of what would have been Garland’s 100th birthday. “We had people from all over the country for this.”
The attraction, which also includes a Children’s Discovery Museum, is expected to welcome more than 25,000 visitors this year.
“We’re an inside place,” Heitz continued. “Having outdoor space to complement indoor space gives people more time than they can spend here.”
Heitz said the private donors lined up so far include his own 8-year-old son. “My son told me he would give me a dollar from his piggy bank… Then my 6-year-old son stepped in and said, ‘Oh, I wonder if I have a dollar in my piggy bank! I’d give it to you, mom.'”