Independence home where Hollywood legend Ginger Rogers was born turned into museum

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- She danced her way from Jackson County into Hollywood's Hall of immortals.

Ginger Rogers, who passed away in 1995, is a bonafide movie legend. On Tuesday, her birthplace on Moore Street in Independence got the Tinsletown treatment, too, when the Ginger House Museum officially opened for business.

Simply put, Rogers was Hollywood's darling, one that danced her way into America's heart. She was born in a small Independence home in 1911.

The Ginger House Museum opens for tours Aug. 21, 2018, in Independence.

Now, the Ginger House Museum is open for tours.

Two years ago, Marge and Gene Padgitt purchased the house, and since then, they say they've invested around $70,000 to restore the house to the state it might have been seen in when Rogers was born there.

More than 20 years after her passing, Tuesday's ribbon cutting proved Rogers can still draw a crowd. In the 1930's and '40's, Rogers and her legendary performing partner, Fred Astaire, were the toast of Hollywood, acting and dancing in some of the era's most popular films.

"A lot of things here have been rebuilt," Marge Padgitt told FOX4's Sean McDowell.

Since February 2016, Padgitt said she's collected keepsakes for the museum, as she and her husband worked to make the house suitable for a cinema queen.

"There's a lot of stuff from eBay. A lot of things we were also able to get from fans who owned things that Ginger Rogers had or memorabilia, and they've donated a lot of things to the museum," Padgitt said.

Ginger Rogers with Fred Astaire in a still from 'Follow the Fleet'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Look around the old bungalow, and you'll take in pieces of Rogers' career, including movie propers and gowns Ginger made famous after leaving Independence.

Dozens of film fans as well as Jackson County history buffs gathered outside the home Tuesday, including Lila Johnson, a screenwriter and self-professed Ginger Rogers fanatic, who said this project means a lot to local history.

"To know that we have a wonderful landmark here will help to draw people. There's also the Truman Library. They're all along the same route, so you get a little history of our former president, but also someone from Hollywood," Johnson said.

Marge Padgitt pointed out the renewed interest in pop culture from the era where Rogers and Astaire were popular. That's why she's working on a dance festival where the swaying styles she helped popularize will be revived.

Local legend has always held that the Ginger House is haunted. The Padgitts said they believe it, too, since paranormal experts have detected Rogers spirit living in the house.

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