Walt Disney Birthplace Preservation Project

Concept art depicting Disney's restored birthplace

Concept art depicting Disney’s restored birthplace

Theme Park Adventure is excited to get the word out about a monumental restoration/preservation project that is underway right now in Chicago – the transformation of the home that Walt Disney was born in, into an iconic landmark returned to its original appearance, complete with historical, educational and fun content to be explored and cherished by generations of Disney enthusiasts of all ages! This project is asking for public funding – and they are well on their way; however, they need everyone’s help in realizing this special dream! It’s only fitting that on December 15th, the anniversary of Walt Disney’s death in 1966, that Theme Park Adventure celebrates this remarkable project with its readers and TPAers everywhere in order to celebrate the life and eternal spirit of this very special man! Please, read on and contribute whatever you can – and help spread this link and the word everywhere you can online…

“On behalf of the Disney family, we are so pleased to see Walt Disney’s historic birthplace and family home being restored to its humble origins in the City of Chicago,” said Roy Patrick Disney, grandson to Roy O. Disney and Walt’s great nephew. “The outpouring of support and excitement we’ve seen from both city officials and Disney fans alike has been simply wonderful, and this is truly a fitting way to honor both Walt and Roy O. Disney, the pioneering brothers who forever changed the face of family entertainment, and, of course, will forever be two of Chicago’s most prominent native sons.”

Roy Patrick Disney
Grandson to Roy O. Disney and Walt’s Great Nephew

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saving Walt and Roy Disney’s Birthplace home is important for generations to come; let’s restore, Landmark, and preserve it forever.

In a quiet residential neighborhood just outside of Chicago, IL, stands a modest family home on the corner of Tripp Avenue and Palmer Street. This house was designed and built by Flora and Elias Disney, Walt and Roy Disney’s mother and father.  Both Walt and Roy were born in this home and lived there until Walt was four and Roy was twelve years old.

HouseWithHBartOver the last century, the home has changed hands several times and has been added to and altered significantly. These “renovations” have almost completely covered up the authentic details of the house.

We have already lost too many buildings that were an incredibly important part of Walt Disney’s history.

And that is why we have purchased this house and will restore it to its original state, honoring and preserving the home for generations to come.

Our project is about more than just a restoration. It is also an opportunity to research this period of the Disney family history which has sparked a larger vision for the home beyond the restoration.

Each day, we gain new insights into how and why Walt and Roy became the men they were. We are learning how their childhood, family and parents impacted their lives and laid a foundation that nurtured collaboration, creativity, and innovation.

With our team of project advisors, we are formalizing strategies on how we can empower today’s families to nurture and raise the creative thinkers of tomorrow.

Our dream is that The Walt Disney Birthplace becomes a portal to new approaches in early childhood development and helps to inspire future Walts and Roys.

A Very Brief History Of The House

A carpenter with a growing family, Elias Disney decided to build a home and put down roots in Chicago. He purchased property on the southwest corner of Tripp Avenue on October 31, 1891.

On November 23, 1892, Elias obtained a permit to build a two-story, 18 x 28 foot wood cottage for $800.

Flora, Elias’ wife, drew up the architectural plans and Elias built the house. In early 1893, the Disney family settled into their new home with their two sons: Herbert and Raymond. Shortly thereafter, their third son, Roy, was born on June 24, 1893.

Eight years later, Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901, on the second floor.

And two years after that, on December 6, 1903, the Disneys welcomed their fifth child and first daughter, Ruth.

On February 10, 1906, Elias sold the property to Walter Chamberlain, moving his family to Marceline, Missouri.

In 1991, Chicago attempted to designate the property as a historical landmark, but the owner fought the designation and won, putting the home at risk of demolition.

Today: After years of neglect, the home is purchased with the intent to restore it to its 1901 state. The new owners are working with the City to protect the home forever.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A cake of what Disney's birthplace will look like once the restoration is complete in 2014

A cake of what Disney’s birthplace will look like once the restoration is complete in 2014

The home will be “A Living Source of Joy and Inspiration” and will promote the importance of family to nurture creativity, collaboration and innovation in children.

This house is where the Disney story truly begins.

An important facet of this project is to foster ongoing discoveries about the environment and early family life that created these two remarkable individuals.

An in-depth study into Walt and Roy’s early upbringing will generate timeless, beneficial insights for today’s families and beyond:

Helping families to nurture creativity

Helping families to embrace their children’s passions

Helping families to “live their values”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dina Benadon, Project Director, Property Owner

Born and raised in Los Angeles, where her father founded and built what became one of Hollywood’s first video post-production companies, Dina grew up at his side, gaining first-hand insights into the world of film production.

Dina started her own career at an emerging computer animation company in the early 90s. Encouraged by digital artists and the excitement of new technologies, Dina segued into the Theme Park division where she found herself immersed in the creation of cutting-edge attractions.

Dina Benadon and Brent Young at Radio Disney

Dina Benadon and Brent Young at Radio Disney

There, she met fellow enthusiast Brent Young and in 1997, followed in her father’s footsteps by launching Super 78, their own animation company. Super 78 is a content developer and producer of specialty movies and attractions for theme park rides, family experiences, museums and science centers. She and Brent (now her husband too) live and work in Silverlake and have a three year old son, Truman.

Dina has earned nominations and awards and is an active Board member for the Themed Entertainment Association and the Producers Guild of America- New Media Council, helping to grow membership and foster new talent in both organizations.

Brent Young, Project Director, Property Owner

A native of Chicago himself, Brent moved to Los Angeles in the early 90s, where he worked as an assistant film editor in a growing computer animation company that produced animated movies for theme park attractions.

In 1997, he launched a production company with fellow themed attraction producer, Dina Benadon, whom he later married. Together, they would grow Super 78, their animation studio, into one of the most well-known media production and creative companies in the theme park industry, receiving numerous industry awards and recognition.

Brent is a director, musician and, most passionately, a theme park aficionado who co-hosts “The Season Pass,” a themed entertainment industry-focused iTunes show (now in its sixth year and more popular than ever).

He and his wife live and work in Silverlake, California with their three year old son – around the corner from where Walt and Roy made Mickey Mouse and Snow White and The Seven Dwarves in 1937.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Restoration Dream Team

Charles Pipal, AIA – Preservation Architect

Charles Pipal is a practicing architect and professor in the Historic Preservation Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture and a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a concentration in historic preservation.

He is a past director of Landmarks Illinois, where he served as chair of the Fund and Easement Committee and currently serves as the Chair of the Riverside Preservation Commission and Vice President of the Pleasant Home Foundation.

Professor Pipal’s particular professional and academic focus has been on the physical documentation and rehabilitation of historic resources.

Tim Samuelson – The Cultural Historian For The City Of Chicago

Tim Samuelson at the project unveiling ceremony

Tim Samuelson at the project unveiling ceremony

Tim Samuelson has been the city’s cultural historian for the past ten years, functioning as a one-man office of the Department of Cultural Affairs. His job is that of a spokesperson, consultant, historian and storyteller, a wide-ranging position that requires him “to tell the spirit and the history of Chicago” through exhibits, public programs, and collaboration with other cultural institutions, museums, and governmental agencies.

He answers questions, and he does his best to tell the story: what Chicago “is,” and why it is the way that it is. The city’s buildings are a part of that story, though his job and his interests pull him in every direction.

People who know him and/or have worked with him in the past commonly describe his breadth of knowledge as “encyclopedic.”

Timothy Barton – Zoning and Historic Preservation Consultant

A Chicago native, Timothy Barton is a land use consultant specializing in historic preservation projects. An expert on Chicago history and architecture, he is the former Research Director for the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, a position he held for 11 years, where his work resulted in the landmarking of dozens of properties. These are just a few of the local landmark research projects Timothy oversaw:

• St. James Episcopal Cathedral: 675 N. Wabash Avenue

• Historic Michigan Boulevard District

• Terra Cotta Row: 1048, 1054, 1057 and 1059 W. Oakdale Ave.

• Chicago and North Western Railway Terminal

He is also an expert in local zoning issues and protocol, with a decade’s experience working at the Chicago Department of Planning and Zoning. Finally, Tim also works as a freelance local area researcher through the Chicago History Museum.

Our “Preservation and Interpretation” Advisors

Steven Clark

Freelance Writer and Communications Consultant

Steven is a highly experienced creative executive who has worked extensively with The Walt Disney Company. Over the last decade with Disney, he was first Director, then Vice President of Corporate Communications. As part of his responsibilities, he founded and was the head of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club and its signature event D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event.

In 1999, he co-authored the book “Disney: The First 100 Years” with Dave Smith, published by Disney Editions/Disney Publishing. And he is currently finishing a book on the 75-year history of the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank for Disney Editions.

Pamela Dahl

Design Management, Disneyland Park Operations, Employee Training and Development

A strategic thinking executive project producer/coordinator with extensive organizational/project development experience, Pamela also has a background in the performing arts; she spent five years working as a Disneyland AGVA Performer for guest interactions, parades, conventions, and more. And she created the part of “Lil” in the original cast of a new musical by Academy Award winning songwriters, Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman.

Dina and Brent remove the first piece of modern siding on the home's exterior

Dina and Brent remove the first piece of modern siding on the home’s exterior

Pamela’s production experience began at WED Enterprises, where she coordinated west coast design and construction efforts for the EPCOT Center’s Mexico Pavilion. She continued with a Coordinator/Master Planning position at Disneyland, and  eventually became a Design Manager/Producer at Imagineering, initiating concept design programs for major theme park projects worldwide for 13 years.

In 2006, she moved into public relations for the Disneyland Resort, and in 2008, began her current position, where she works with senior executives in the development and implementation of the resort’s vision/mission and resort-wide employee training and development programs.

Waynn Pearson

Independent Entertainment Professional

In 1981, Waynn became the Director of the Cerritos Library, a position he held for the next 25 years. When the library began planning for a major expansion at the turn of the new millennium, Waynn envisioned and created what would become the first “Experience Library.”

Incorporating his insights from working in retail, his careful study of Disney storytelling through immersive environments, and his considerations of “…human nature, Fortune 500 company marketing approaches, trends in the entertainment industry…” and much more, Waynn redefined what a “library” could be.

With state-of-the-art technology, a wide variety of themed spaces, and a complete overhaul of standard library services, the new facility was an instant and enormous success when it debuted on March 16, 2002. It went on to win a prestigious THEA Award in 2003, among many others.

Rick Rothschild

Concept unveiling at the project kick-off event

Concept unveiling at the project kick-off event

Creative and Technical Show Direction Consultant at Walt Disney Imagineering, Founder and Chief Creative Officer at FAR OUT! Creative Direction

For more than three decades, Rick has been a key creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, helping to design and produce over 25 world-renowned attractions.

In addition, he has been an integral part of various concept development teams for new attractions, entire theme parks and more. He has also produced attractions for museums and educational institutions, including Vancouver’s FlyOver Canada and Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.

Rick is a Past President of and still serves on the Themed Entertainment Association’s International Board of Directors.

Heidi Trotta

Communications and Public Relations Executive

Heidi worked for The Walt Disney Studios for two decades, starting in 1990 as Director, Publicity, Advertising and Promotions. By 2003, she had moved up to become Sr. Vice President, Global Communications, acting as chief spokesperson for the Studio and responsible for the overall global communication strategies covering motion pictures, music, home entertainment, theatrical productions, as well as new technology, environmental and anti-piracy initiatives.

Starting in 2010, she opened her own communications and public relations firm where she consults on product launch marketing, crisis management, multi-platform content, media training, social media strategy, events, internal communications among other creative and strategic communications initiatives.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Walt Disney Birthplace is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with The Walt Disney Company, Disney Enterprises, Inc., or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates. Reference to Walt Disney and their trademarks is used purely for historical reference and informational purposes.

Important links:

Kickstarter project page: http://kck.st/1eX8squ

Project website: http://www.thewaltdisneybirthplace.org/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WDBirthplace

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Walt-Disney-Birthplace/579819148755657

Links to our project videos hosted on Vimeo:

Our main Kickstarter video: http://vimeo.com/81055127

Our Kickstarter Rewards video: http://vimeo.com/81058471

Our “Restoration Dream Team” video: http://vimeo.com/81053204

This entry was posted in Home Page, Home Page Slider, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

TPAers, Join the Discussion...