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Period furniture and fixtures fill the house where Judy Garland once lived

To say that Marc Charbonnet is an avid Judy Garland memorabilia collector is like saying a certain pair of slippers Garland once wore got to be kind of famous.

To say that Marc Charbonnet is an avid Judy Garland memorabilia collector is like saying a certain pair of slippers Garland once wore got to be kind of famous.

Over the years, Charbonnet has won at auction Judy Garland's address book, her makeup case, the gold record from the millionth sale of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and the white enamel microphone from her television show. He even (purportedly) bid on her coffin handles, but was outdone by two little old ladies.

"I like to collect things," Charbonnet said in a telephone interview from New York City. And much of his collection is on display at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids.

"I would never have the venue to share these things," Charbonnet said, explaining the long-term loans. Charbonnet, 52, has been a fan since age 16. That Judy Garland was something special was about the only thing Marc Charbonnet and his father could agree on, he said.

"It's important to have her memory preserved," he said. "I think she is the greatest entertainer of the 20th century."

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Charbonnet's passion for all things Judy has extended to her childhood home. He has collected and sent a number of period pieces, from large pieces such as a mahogany empire sofa and a chifforobe to smaller items such as a wall-mounted hat rack and a cigarette stand. He also found a wallpaper company that could reproduce vintage designs, and period wallpaper now covers nearly every inch of the home's interior, including the ceiling. That would have been expected in a 1920s home, said Judy Garland Museum Executive Director John Kelsch.

Nothing in the home is original to the Gumm family (Judy Garland's original name). But the home has been brought back as closely as possible to the condition it would have been in when the family lived there from 1914 to 1926.

That meant ripping out modern appliances, undoing past renovations, and generally reversing 80-some years of updates. Gone are the 1960s-kitchen, a main-floor bathroom and four layers of asphalt shingles. Back is the icebox, the small grand piano and the sewing machine set up by the dining room window.

Kelsch and museum staff talked to people who had known the Gumm family and spent time in their house to glean whatever information they could about how the house looked in the early 1920s -- "Judy's formative years," Kelsch said. The finishing touches went up in January, with the application of more period wallpaper throughout the home.

The museum and home are open for tours Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., April through September.

JANNA GOERDT covers the communities surrounding Duluth. She can be reached weekdays at (218) 279-5527 or by e-mail at jgoerdt@duluthnews.com .

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