In 1861, when L. Frank Baum was five years old, the Baum family sold its businesses and holdings in Chittenango and moved to a home in what was then an up-and-coming neighborhood in Syracuse.
In 1866, Baum's father bought the mansion Roselawn with profits from the oil business. Baum grew up there with many happy childhood memories. With his brother Frank, he produced a family newspaper on a printing press their father purchased for them. The yellowish hemlock wood of the plank road may have been an inspiration for the Yellow Brick Road.
In 1871, a fifteen-year-old Baum may have witnessed a hot-air balloon launch in Clinton Square. Whether the teen aged Baum saw the balloon for himself or merely heard about it, Baum scholars suspect that this event inspired the scene of the Wizard’s departure from Oz by balloon in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
At the home owned by William Neal and his wife, Harriet Baum Neal, Frank’s sister, Frank met his future wife, Maud Gage, daughter of freethinker and suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage, at a Christmas party in 1881. The introduction was made by Frank’s aunt Josephine Baum, whose daughter Josie was a roommate of Maud Gage’s at Cornell University. Family legend says it was love at first sight—or something very close to it—for Frank and Maud.
Baum and his wife, Maud, rented half of this house (then 45-1/2 Holland Street) between May 1886 and September 1888. Of the three homes in which Frank and Maud lived together, this is the only one still standing.
For a time, Baum worked as a traveling salesman for his brother Benjamin William Baum, whose company began in Buffalo but then moved to several locations in Syracuse.