'No Place Like Home' for Garland Fan

Posted at: 06/14/2013 6:40 PM | Updated at: 06/15/2013 9:18 AM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

The Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland was born in Grand Rapids and her childhood home needed a fresh coat of paint. A devoted fan traveled over 10,000 miles to help out.

Before she was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and even before she was Judy Garland, she was Judy Gumm. She was born in Grand Rapids and raised there for about 4 years in a small white house.

The house now sits next to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids. It looks like 1920 inside the home, but the exterior was in need of a little work.

Geoffrey Stallmann came all the way from Brisbane, Australia to help restore the home. Stallmann said he was a painter for 36 years, and this last job will usher in retirement.

“I'd sort of like to think that I'll look back and say, 'Well, if they Judy Garland House is the last house that I ever painted then I'd sort of see that as a feather in my cap,'” Stallmann said.

The home is over 100 years old and Stallmann said that meant sanding and painting by hand.

“Most of the house is pine. We felt that using a grinder on it might bite into the wood a little,” Stallmann said.

So why would he go through so much trouble and donate his time? Stallmann said he is jealous of the locals.

“It's an awesome thing to have a little town of about 9,500 people and to have a very special lady that was born here I think it's awesome. I really do,” Stallman said.

He has made seven trips to visit the museum since 1988, and said he frozen winters are to much for him. But he does plan to keep coming back to his second home.

“Grand Rapids certainly is 'There's no place like home,'” Stallmann said.

The Judy Garland Festival wraps up on Saturday with a showing of “Beyond the Rainbow: Garland at Carnegie” in Grand Rapids. The play highlights Garland's life and will take place at the Myles Reif Performing Art Center.

Another big Garland fan purchased all the tickets, and asked that they be distributed to anyone for free. Contact the Reif Center Box office to reserve your free tickets for the show.

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