This post was co-written by both Andrew and Vanessa Prince.
Main Street, U.S.A in the Magic Kingdom is based on Walt Disney’s early childhood town of Marceline, Missouri, but did you know that he was actually born in Chicago, Illinois? That’s right, he only lived there for four years, but Chicago is where all of the magic really began! We have been visiting family in the Chicago area for over 20 years and always wanted to at least drive by The Walt Disney Birthplace on Tripp Avenue. But unfortunately, where our family lives and the birthplace are not close to each other, or should I say it is not convenient to get to it. Recently we were dropping Mabel (Andrew’s sister) off at Loyola University and decided we would be close enough for a visit.
The house is located at 2156 N. Tripp Avenue at the corner of N. Tripp Avenue and W. Palmer Street in the Hermosa neighborhood. The original address was 1249 Tripp Avenue; in 1909, Chicago changed its address numbering system. So if you are planning to visit, make sure you enter the correct street address of 2156 N. Tripp Avenue. The first challenge was navigating all of the one way streets, thank goodness for GPS. The second challenge was finding a parking place. The streets have “permit parking only”, so be careful. We managed to find an open space on Palmer Street a few blocks away and walked back to the house.
The house is a simple two story wood sided home with a small front porch and wooden fence. The 18 x 28 foot wood cottage home was built in 1893 by Elias and Flora Disney, Walt’s parents, for the cost of $800. According to The Walt Disney Birthplace website Flora designed the home and Elias used his carpentry skills to build it. In 1893, the Disney’s settled in with their two boys, Herbert and Raymond. On June 24, 1893, Roy Disney was born in the home followed by Walter Elias Disney on December 5, 1901. Walt’s younger sister, Ruth, was born in the home on December 6, 1903. Later in 1906, Elias Disney sold the home on Tripp Avenue and moved the family to Marceline, Missouri.
Over the years there have been numerous renovations to the home including removal of the front porch, addition of aluminum siding, and several changes to the interior. In 2013, Dina Benadon and Brent Young purchased the home on Tripp Avenue with the intent to restore the home to its original state in 1901. In doing so the couple hopes to have the home put on the local and national registry of historic landmarks. If you would like to learn more about the restoration efforts please watch the videos below and visit The Walt Disney Birthplace website.
“But now those plans have been expanded — they also want to establish a multimedia-rich museum on the site, which would re-create what life was like for the Disney’s in Chicago back in the early 20th century”, according to the Chicago Tribune. The sign in front of the house reads – The Walt Disney Birthplace Restoration Project and will be the Center for Early Childhood Creativity and Innovation. The expected date of completion is December 5, 2016, 115 years after Walt Disney was born.
When we were there on July 23, 2016, the new front porch was in place. We could see how the house must have looked prior to restoration as the left side was desperately in need of paint and new windows. We were not able to go inside, but we did peak around the back of the house, and it too needs some attention. While we were taking pictures a nice passer by stopped and offered to take our family picture. He said he lived nearby and was curious about the house but had never stopped to look at it. We hope to return to the house once it is completed so that we can see the interior and visit the museum.
Earlier this summer on June 26, Dick Van Dyke was a special guest at The Walt Disney Birthplace during Creativity Days and A Night of Magic With Dick Van Dyke. During the Creativity Days at WDB a CreativiTREE was planted. Children then wrote hopes and dreams on a ribbon and tied them to the branches. “The tree is our commitment to encourage every child to reach for their dreams”, WDB website. The tree is at the corner of Tripp and Palmer and the ribbons were still tied on the branches during our visit.
We hope you, too, will plan to stop and visit The Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago. Once the restoration is complete we will be back to check out the Center for Early Childhood Creativity and Innovation and the Disney museum inside of the house. If you have or plan to visit the Walt Disney Birthplace, let us know in the comments below.
(Walt Disney Birthplace restoration and dream team videos and logos ©The Walt Disney Birthplace. Maps ©Google. Video of A Night of Magic With Dick Van Dyke The Vantastix courtesy of Tracy Fryers Vollmers, former Disney Cruise Line Specialist on the Disney Parks Moms Panel. All other photos are from authors’ personal collection.)
Andrew is an 18-year-old high school graduate from Ohio. He was born with cerebral palsy and gets around in a wheelchair. He has been to both US Disney parks, several D23 events and is a DCL Gold Castaway Club member. If you would like to contact him feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or look him up on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/andrew.prince.7161 and on Twitter https://twitter.com/Andrew1arp
Vanessa has been going to Walt Disney World since 1971. She is happy that her three children and husband enjoy Disney as much as she does. Vanessa is an Annual Passholder, a member of Disney Vacation Club, Platinum Castaway Club, WDW Radio Running Team and a runDisney participant. Her son Andrew writes Disney on Wheels for the WDW Radio blog. When she is not at Disney she is a stay at home mom and uses her masters in marketing background to raise money for her children’s schools. Vanessa also enjoys planning her next trip Home to anywhere Disney.