The Story of a House
If buildings could talk, they would tell stories, just the way we do. The modest white clapboard structure on Pokegama Avenue in Grand Rapids, Minnesota has a store of memories that it shares with thousands of visitors a year. For over half a century, caring conservators have kept the house in order and brought collections and memories together from all over America. They tell the story of the gifted child who was born here.
She became the entertainer the world knows as Judy Garland. Her home was already thirty years old when she came along and shortly began to astonish family and friends.
Here are some highlights in the life of the house on Pokegama • 1892 Andrew and Mary Shook build the house. • January 22, 1914 Frank and Ethel Gumm are married in Superior, Wisconsin. • March 5, 1914 Frank and Ethel are hired to run the New Grand Theater in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. • September 1, 1915 The Gumms rent a house on Kindred Avenue. • September 24, 1915 Frank and Ethel’s first daughter, Mary Jane, is born. • 1917 The Gumms buy the Shook house on Hoffman Avenue and West 4th Street. • July 4, 1917 A second daughter, Virginia, is born. • June 10, 1922 A third daughter, Frances Ethel, is born. • June 8, 1926 The Gumm Family boards a train west for vacation, ending in Los Angeles. They return to Grand Rapids on July 18, 1926, and they relocate to California in October, 1926.
March, 1938 Judy Garland returns to visit the Grand Rapids house as a movie star following Pigskin Parade, Broadway Melody of 1938, Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry, Everybody Sing. • Summer, 1938 The house that was Judy’s birthplace is moved to another site. • November, 1994 The house is moved to its present location at 2727 South Pokegama Avenue on two acres of donated land. Restoration based on family photographs and oral histories begins on two levels of 1700 square feet at a cost of $225,000. House Detective Jim Sazevich provides historical preservation evaluation—a document of some 150 pages!
The museum begins operating as a non-profit organization, and soon attains an annual attendance of 10,000 guests. • June, 1997 The Judy Garland Memorial Garden opens. • June, 2003 The Judy Garland Museum, along with a brand new Children’s Discovery Museum, is completed!