Friends of Jim the Wonder Dog was started in 1997 to develop plans for the Jim the Wonder Dog Garden in Marshall. The organizing group consisted of representatives from Friends of Saline County and the Marshall Chamber of Commerce. After two years of effort to raise funds and develop plans for the park, it was completed in the spring of 1999.
A dedication of the garden was held on May 1, 1999. It included the unveiling of the sculpture of Jim created by Andy Davis, a sculptor from Columbia, Missouri. The garden was constructed on the site of the demolished Ruff Hotel where Jim and Sam VanArsdale lived in Marshall. The garden included a gazebo, interpretive signs depicting the story of Jim, the statue of Jim, and a water garden constructed by the Saline County Water Garden Club. Several people who saw Jim work shared their remembrances of their personal contacts with the dog.
Evelyn Counts was tireless in her efforts to raise money to build the garden. Walter Keith headed up the efforts to construct the garden. Other members of the committee included Donna Huston and Lee Bearden. Many volunteers worked to make the garden a success. Hundreds of people donated money to the garden and some purchased memorial bricks which are placed along the walkway through the garden.
In April of 2012, Friends of Jim purchased the building at the south end of the garden from the Saline County Historical Society. The building needed extensive remodeling which was done over a period
of 2 years. Friends of Jim members and others raised the funds necessary for the remodeling. The building was designed to be the Marshall Welcome Center and Jim the Wonder Dog Museum. The
plan included having a retail business there to allow the building to be open through the work week with volunteers keeping the Museum and Welcome Center open on weekends. The grand opening of the building was held in May of 2014.