Grand Rapids, Minn.
Judy Garland home
2727 US Highway 169 South
This house in Grand Rapids was the first home of Frances Gumm/Judy Garland (1922-1969), the singer/actor/gay icon whose death has occasionally been credited with setting the flame that ignited the Stonewall Rebellion. Garland‘s father was reportedly gay, as was her second husband, director Vincente Minnelli, and there have been rumors about her own bisexuality.
The Gumms owned the New Grand Theater on Pokagama Avenue in Grand Rapids in the 1920s. Baby Gumm gave her first public performance there at age 2, singing “Jingle Bells” with her two older sisters. When she was 4, her parents moved the family to California to pursue their show business ambitions – and also apparently to escape the rumors of Frank Gumm’s sexual inclinations.
Judy’s best-loved role is undoubtedly as Dorothy Gale in the classic 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz. Every June since 1975, Grand Rapids has celebrated its most famous resident with a Judy Garland Festival, complete with bands and floats. In 1989, the 50th anniversary of the movie, the town dedicated its very own Yellow Brick Road, a pathway of 5,000 bricks, about one-fifth of which have been engraved with personal messages (at an average cost of about 50 dollars).
The Gumm house has been restored to look like it would have in the 1920s, and is open to the public, with family items and photographs and Wizard of Oz memorabilia on display.