“Ideas come from curiosity.”
Walt Disney once said it, and Dina Benadon and Brent Young, husband-and-wife owners of Super 78, a media content company that develops themed attractions, are living it through their recent purchase of Walt Disney’s birthplace in Chicago, where, if you think about it, the magic really started.
And while devoted Disney fans know about Walt’s childhood home in Marceline, Missouri – and that its downtown helped inspire the look of Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland – most are probably unaware that he was born on the second floor of a modest wood-frame house built by his father Elias and drafted by his mother Flora on the Chicago’s northwest side, or that he would come back to the city as a teenager.
Many of the buildings Walt lived and worked in have been demolished and summarily repurposed over the years, which is exactly why the couple decided to launch The Walt Disney Birthplace Project. Restoring his first home to its turn-of-the-century glory, recognizing it as a historical landmark, and opening it to the public as as private museum are the initiative’s main goals; and a Kickstarter campaign is now underway to help fund it.
I’m in (as a Chicagoan and long-time mouse lover, how could I not be?), because Walt’s life’s work lives on in everyone, making the careful preservation of his legacy paramount.
Help restore his childhood home and own a piece of Disney history too (the reward options are pretty cool):
There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow 1 of 12
"Our project is about more than just a restoration," Benadon and Young say on The Walt Disney Birthplace website. "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... 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."
Restoration Dream Team 2 of 12
Every backer will have their name inscribed in the special leather-bound "Restoration Dream Team Charter Member" book, which will be a permanent addition to the house.
Charter Member 3 of 12
Backers at the $5 level and above will receive a "Charter Member of the Walt Disney Birthplace Preservation Project" certificate.
Collectible Pin 4 of 12
Commissioned especially for the project, this pin would be pretty perfect for a Disney Pin Collector.
Collectible Tee 5 of 12
Commemorative tees designed by artist Richard Terpstra (designerland.blogspot.com) are being created in a limited run.
Key To The House 6 of 12
This bonafide Victorian-era door key is contemporary to the year Elias built the house, you guys. It comes with a special commemorative tag that will grant the bearer access to a group tour once the home is restored.
Group Tours 7 of 12
Several pledge levels include tickets to group tours, private hard-hat tours of the construction site, and invitations to the Gala Grand Re-Opening Ceremony.
Concept Art 8 of 12
This 16" x 24" poster features the original concept art for the restoration, created by artist Clara Moon (www.claramoon.com).
Commemorative Art 9 of 12
This original 27" x 40" poster, created by artist Karen Armitage (www.armitageimages.com), will be reproduced as a signed, limited-edition lithographic print.
Cedar Shake Keepsake 10 of 12
This very special limited-edition Walt Disney Birthplace keepsake features an actual cedar shake fragment from the original house. And yes, this is this wood cut and assembled by Elias Disney himself. Each one-of-a-kind chip is molded into a 4" x 3" x 1" acrylic block. There are only 200 of these available.
Custom-Engraved Paver Stone 11 of 12
This dedicated paver stone will be engraved with your name, and placed on the walkway in front of and alongside the house.
Custom-Engraved Copper Plaque 12 of 12
Backers at the two top levels will have their names inscribed on a copper plaque affixed to the exterior of the property.
To learn more about The Disney Birthplace Project, visit thewaltdisneybirthplace.org.
Photo credits: The Walt Disney Birthplace Project
Travelhound Pilar wouldn’t mind being at Walt Disney World eating the ears off a Mickey ice cream bar right about now. But, since she can’t be at her “second home” year round, she curates happy thoughts on Disney Social Media Magic, a virtual springboard where breaking news and other Disneyfied thingamabobs are shared. For more mouse-minded geekery, join Pilar on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and personal site, One Mom Media.