Syracuse Land Bank Could be Key to Saving House Where "Oz" Creator Met His Future Wife

May 12, 2014

The abandoned, boarded-up Syracuse house where Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum first met his future wife might finally have a brighter future via the land bank.  Syracuse common councilors Monday approved the sale of the tax delinquent house at 678 W. Onondaga Street to the land bank, which then could choose to sell it to the Baum Foundation. 

The house at 678 W. Onondaga St. was built in 1880.
The house at 678 W. Onondaga St. was built in 1880.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
 Executive Director Kathleen DiScenna says the couple met in 1881.   She says his late niece Cynthia told her,

  "If my Uncle Frank and Auntie Maud hadn't met in this house, you do know there would be no Oz to talk about."

  Frank and Maud married a year after they met, and moved on to South Dakota, Chicago, and eventually California.  Baum published  “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” in 1900.  DiScenna says the foundation has been trying to acquire the property for more than a decade.  
The rear of the house.
The rear of the house.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
  She says plans are ready to go to repair and renovate the house if their purchase offer is accepted by the land bank.   

The house has been behind on taxes since 2006, and has sat vacant for 15 years.   DiScenna says  the house is in generally good shape considering its age.  She says it would cost around $150,000 to just fix it up, and more to renovate it.  But she says contractors and others have committed to donating supplies, equipment, and time to the project.