The Chicago birthplace of Walt Disney will soon begin a hefty restoration project to be converted into a private residence and museum, preserving its place in history – and allowing fans to become part of the process.
Many failed attempts have come in recent decades to reserve the 1893 home built by Elias Disney, father to Walt and brother Roy O. Disney. But through the power of fans online, this latest attempt will engage the online community to ensure this important piece of Disney history doesn’t disappear.
The house was purchased by couple Dina Benadon and Brent Young, best known for owning theme park attraction design firm Super 78 Studios. Young is also co-host of the popular Season Pass Podcast. Though the house was bought for just $173,000, Young says it will take more than a half million dollars of renovations to return it to the state in which it should be to accurately represent the time when the Disney boys were born there.
History says Walt Disney and his brother Roy were literally born inside this house located in Hermosa, a Chicago community area. They lived there until 1906 before packing up for Marceline, Missouri.
Now this historic house will be brought back to as close to its original state as possible, as built by Walt’s father, using as many original building materials and drawings as possible. The project team is even going as far as to turn to nearby houses to bring in period pieces that closely match what was once inside. When complete, the home won’t be a public attraction, but rather a private residence and museum with the goal of obtaining historical landmark designation.
“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.”
The Walt Disney Birthplace Historic Preservation project officially launches tomorrow, December 5, 2013 – Walt Disney’s 112th birthday. The city of Chicago is on board to officially declare December 5 as Walt Disney Day.
Artwork by longtime Walt Disney Imagineer Karen Armitage
Their fund raising efforts have already begun online today. A Kickstarter campaign is now available, hoping to raise at least $500,000. To appeal to Disney fans, unique and highly collectible rewards are being offered for those who contribute.
The top backer reward, for a $10,000 pledge, is an exclusive one-night stay (for two) at the restored home. With this being a private residence, this opportunity to stay inside will only be available to a small number of people. Other rewards include artwork, pins, and collectibles.
But there is another way to win a night’s stay for one lucky backer.
To enter to receive one of these pieces, make a pledge of any amount (as low as $1) on the project’s Kickstarter. Then leave a note in the “Comments” section saying you heard about the project through Inside the Magic. You may enter as many times as you like, but each entry requires a separate pledge. (Only one comment is needed.)
This giveaway will take place whether the project reaches its goal or not.
We are excited to have a small part in this exciting project and encourage all Disney fans to support Dina and Brent in their efforts to preserve what is definitely meant to be a permanent part of Disney history.