The society's board voted 6-5 to buy the property from Welk's nieces, Evelyn Schwab, 84, and Edna Schwab, 80. The property has been listed for sale for more than a year, with an asking price of $125,000. A final sale price hasn't been negotiated.
Last year, the Legislature allocated $100,000 for the society's purchase of the 6-acre homestead, but lawmakers stipulated that repairs must be made first. The purchase agreement is contingent on negotiated repairs being made to the property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The purchase will come 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 band leader's birthplace. Lawmakers later withdrew the money when the idea was mocked as a national symbol of wasteful spending.
Welk, who died in 1992, learned to play accordion in the home in Strasburg, a town off the "Lawrence Welk Highway" where many of the 400 inhabitants still converse in German. Welk left Strasburg at age 21 to start a musical career that took him from dance halls in the Dakotas to national television. He became known as the "King of Champagne Music" and added to the national lexicon with his heavily German-accented phrases, "Ah-one, an' ah-two" and "wunnerful, wunnerful."
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