INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 12, 2013, 02:12 PM

North Dakota tables purchase of Lawrence Welk's boyhood home

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The state Historical Society has tabled the purchase of Lawrence Welk's boyhood home in the south central North Dakota town of Strasburg.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The state Historical Society has tabled the purchase of Lawrence Welk's boyhood home in the south central North Dakota town of Strasburg.

Historical Society Director Merl Paaverud said group's board met Friday in Strasburg to decide whether to buy the late bandleader's birthplace. He said the 12-member board needs more information on the costs to upgrade and maintain the homestead.

The Legislature this year included $100,000 in the Historical Society's budget for the purchase. The idea comes two decades after Congress earmarked $500,000 in federal funds to develop a tourist industry in Strasburg. The money included a museum of German-Russian heritage that was intended to draw visitors to the bandleader's birthplace.

Lawmakers later withdrew the money when the idea was mocked as a symbol of wasteful spending.

Welk left Strasburg at 21 to start a musical career that took him from dance halls in the Dakotas to national television.

The homestead was restored with private funds in the early 1990s. Welk donated about $140,000 for the restoration before his death in 1992 at age 89.

Paaverud said his agency attempted to get an appraisal for the property but could not find someone with expertise in evaluating historical sites. The property, which has been for sale since last fall, has been listed with a Bismarck real estate agent for $125,000.

The six-acre homestead includes a barn, summer kitchen, granary, buggy house, blacksmith shop and outhouse. The historical society also envisions the property as a tourist destination to tout the importance of agriculture and the region's German-Russian heritage.

Paaverud estimated the site would require an annual state appropriation of about $60,000 for maintenance and to pay part-time staff. The state would aggressively market the destination to tourists in an attempt to make it pay for itself, he said.

Tags: