Long before Ginger Rogers danced into the hearts of American film buffs during the 1930s, she experienced a common lifestyle in Independence. The actress, singer and dancer enjoyed a career that spanned 60 years and included more than 70 films, many with her longtime dancing partner Fred Astaire.
A weekend festival to honor the movie legend and celebrate her home as a museum and tourist site runs from this Friday through Sunday.
Three Trails Cottages, owned and operated by Independence residents Marge and Gene Padgitt, bought the home in north Independence in 2016. The couple has been renovating the home’s interior, preparing for the opening, said Marge Padgitt, who also is the museum director and a local historian.
The 800-square-foot craftsman-style bungalow, at 100 W. Moore St., was named a city of Independence historic landmark in 1994, Padgitt said. Although the home will be opened for preview tours during this weekend’s festivities, the official opening is expected to take place by Sept. 1, she said.
But this weekend’s tours are the first time the home is opened for public viewing. Weekend events will be held at several locations, including the Truman Library, the Truman Memorial Building and the star’s childhood home. Free showings of two films featuring Rogers will be shown from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Truman Memorial Building, 416 W Maple Ave. (Donations will be accepted,)
Tickets to a Saturday night banquet and auction are $95 and include attendance at a fan club meeting and private tour of the home Sunday morning. The event also includes admission to the Truman Library and presentations by experts, including keynote speaker Roberta Olden, who was the star’s personal secretary.
Auction items include those that belonged to Rogers and Independence memorabilia. The evening will also feature a display of several of the star’s showpiece gowns, Padgitt said. Tickets are limited to 75 people, and proceeds will be used toward further home improvements, including exterior renovations and landscaping, she said. Tours of the home (without banquet attendance) are $6 for adults with special prices for seniors and children.
The upcoming event is the third official Ginger Rogers celebration, the first of which was held in 1964, which Rogers attended with her mother, Lela, and Harry Truman spoke at the event, Padgitt said. A second festival was held in 1994.
For more information about the weekend’s events, visit www.thegingerhouse.org or call 1-816-833-1602.