Disney Legacy

A pair of theme-park ride designers is restoring the house where Walt and Roy Disney were born, reports Brooks Barnes in The New York Times (12/4/13). The designers are actually a married couple – Dina Benadon and Brent Young – who "mostly work for Disney rivals." The house – located "at the corner of Tripp Avenue and Palmer Street in Hermosa, a working-class neighborhood about five miles from downtown Chicago” – was built in 1893 by Elias Disney, father of the Disney boys. It was based on "blueprints their mother, Flora, helped draft. They lived there until 1906." (video)

The city of Chicago has repeatedly declined to give the house landmark status, and it "has remained a private residence." Last year, Dina and Brent spotted a listing for the home and snapped it up for $173,000. Their plan is to restore it, and "authentically recreate the Disney household life experience," says Brent. They will run it "as a private museum, called the Walt Disney Birthplace, offering tours and staging modest exhibitions." The couple says they will not disrupt the neighborhood, but want to do something more than just put "a plaque on a house."

"Our dream is that this house becomes a place that inspires creativity," says Dina. "We want to inspire parents to raise more Walts and Roys." Dina and Brent hope to raise the $500,000 needed to make that happen via KickStarter, (link) and by "selling mementos from the house, like old shingles encased in glass." They have neither the blessings nor support of the Walt Disney Company, but they do have the gratitude of Roy’s son, who says the family is "pleased to see Wall Disney’s historic birthplace restored to its humble origins." Dina and Brent hope that eventually the site will win landmark status.


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