The restoration and preservation of Walt and his brother Roy’s birthplace and home officially got underway today, on Walt Disney’s 112th birthday, at a press conference held at the historic site. Alderman Rey Colon was on hand along with homeowners Brent Young and Dina Benadon to kick off the year-long meticulous process of restoring the home to its 1901 state, when Walt was born. As part of the celebration, Mayor Emanuel proclaimed it Walt Disney Day in Chicago.
‘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, in a statement. ‘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.’
In addition to Young, Benadon and Colon, also attending the press conference were Betsy Steinberg, Director of the Illinois Film Office; Preservation Architect Charles Pipal; Chicago Cultural Historian Tim Samuelson; Zoning Historic Preservation Consultant Timothy Barton and the students of William Nixon Elementary School.
Famed Chicago bakery TipsyCake provided Walt’s birthday cake, decorated to look like the home did at the time of Walt’s birth. Owner and principal Naomi Levine said, ‘I adore Goofy and spent my first trip to the United States at Disneyland at age 9. I adored the experience!’ As the cake was cut, fourth grade students from William Nixon Elementary School sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Walt in celebration.
Young and Benadon, who have been in the theme park industry for over 20 years, credit the Disney family for inspiring their careers. They purchased the birthplace of Walt and Roy as a way to give back and protect the site where the Disneys were nurtured as boys, leading them to become pioneering giants of family entertainment.
The home, located at 2156 North Tripp Ave., was built in 1893 by Walt and Roy’s father Elias, and designed by their mother, Flora. Elias Disney built two other homes on the same block as well as the St. Paul Congregational Church. ‘It’s an amazing story that keeps unfolding and every day we learn something new,’ Benadon said. ‘Our dream is that the home will serve as a place to inspire creativity in our children for generations to come.’
In order to finance the project, Young stated, ‘Our vision has always been to reach out to the community the Disney brothers have touched and the perfect mechanism for this was through Kickstarter. In addition to crowd funding, we hope to raise financing through the private sector and potential sponsorships.’
To learn more about The Disney Birthplace Project and how to participate in this historical restoration and preservation visit thewaltdisneybirthplace.org.
ABOUT THE RESTORATION 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.
In additional to his architectural practice, he is also owner of Blueprint Tours, a destination management company specifically focused on academic and curricular-based travel. He resides in historic Riverside, Illinois with his wife and three sons.
Tim Samuelson – Chicago Cultural Historian
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 land marking 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.
Dina Benadon, Project Director, Property Owner
Born and raised in Los Angeles, where her father founded and built what became one of Hollywood’s largest 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 the 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.
There, she met fellow enthusiast Brent Young and in 1997, followed in her father’s footsteps by launching, with Brent, Super 78, their own animation company. Super 78 has grown and evolved into a content developer of specialty movies for theme park rides, attractions, museums and science centers. She and Brent (now her husband, as well) 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 also 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 Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs in 1937.
Contact: Morgan Harris
Allied Integrated Marketing
SOURCE The Disney Birthplace Project
The Disney Birthplace Project
Web Site: http://www.thewaltdisneybirthplace.org