Tib’s house.

The Mankato (MN) Free Press reports that the Betsy-Tacy Society is hoping to buy a third house that played a significant role in Maud Hart Lovelace’s beloved series. The books were published in the 1940s and 1950s, but set a few decades earlier in idyllic small-town Mankato. The organization already owns the houses that belonged to “Betsy” and “Tacy” — Lovelace and her childhood neighbor and best friend Frances “Bick” Kenney. Now they have their eye on “Tib’s House,” one-time home to Marjorie Gerlach, another real-life little girl who became a prominent character in the books.

I toured Betsy’s and Tacy’s homes last fall in preparation for a story and slide show for Slate’s Double X (“Jo March Slept Here“), and they’re both lovely.

Inside Betsy's house.

When I interviewed the society’s executive director, Julie Schrader, for the Double X story, I was a little mystified about the economics of paying for, renovating and maintaining two large, beautiful homes with — let’s face it — limited appeal to tourists. Yes, it has its coterie of devoted readers young and old, and HarperCollins is re-releasing several favorites in the series. But the series is less well-known than its rival for upper-Midwest girlhood-fiction tourist dollars: The behemoth that is Laura Ingalls Wilder.

MinnPost’s story about Tib’s house sheds some light on this burning question of financing the purchase. First, take a look at Tib’s house. I strolled by out of curiosity but didn’t go knocking on the door, like its owners say some people have done over the years.

Tib's house, built in 1885. It's just a few blocks away from Betsy's and Tacy's.

Pretty gorgeous, right? Let’s take a look at the side view.

Yes, it’s as big and beautifully maintained as it looks from the front. And according to the Free Press, it’s on the market for … drumroll … $225,000. That seems like an amazing bargain to me, though I’m not an expert in Minnesota real estate. The Betsy-Tacy Society is doing the responsible thing and trying to raise the cash to pay for the whole thing upfront — they don’t want a mortgage. But no matter what happens, they’ll always have Betsy and Tacy:

Betsy's house.

Tacy's house.

More about Maud.

Bonus: Guess what you can buy for $225,000 in NYC. (In 2007, but still.)


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