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Walt Disney Birthplace Restoration - Phase One: Halfway Home

Walt Disney Birthplace Restoration - Phase One: Halfway Home

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Last week, I attended a fundraising dinner at one of Walt's favorite restaurants, The Tam O'Shanter. As attendees dined on their famous prime rib, Disney author (and former Disney Home Video honcho) Mindy Johnson talked with special guests Alice Davis and Kathryn Beaumont about their experiences with Walt.

Alice talked about how she first met Walt (at that very restaurant!) and how Walt prophesied that one day she would work for him, and how that prophecy coming true worked out. Kathryn talked about how her initial nervousness over meeting The Great Walt Disney melted away in seconds as he pulled her into his enthusiasm for the upcoming "Alice in Wonderland ." We saw rare photos of her acting out her parts as Alice, including some wild contraptions to mimic her moving around in a bottle, and told how they put up a little house around her for the scene in The White Rabbit's house, then had to rebuild it as a frame so that animators could see how her arms moved inside the house. She also shared photos from her work on "Peter Pan ," as Wendy Darling, of course, but she also shared that she was one of several different models used for Tinker Bell as well.

Kathryn Beaumont looks on as Alice Davis' husband Marc draws the title character from
Disney's "Alice in Wonderland." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Todd Regan, Big Kahuna of the Walt Disney Birthplace and CECCI, then shared with us about progress on the restoration, noting that it was imperative that the house be protected before this year's coming polar vortex (yes, another one) hits Chicago. The ugly metal siding was removed to reveal the original wood that Elias used to build the house that Flora designed, but this left the house vulnerable.

A helpful donor made an offer: If anyone that night would sponsor a window at $2500.00, they would match it with a second window. Two for one. Alice Davis was among the people there who sponsored one of the windows for the house, on behalf of herself and her husband Marc. She and the other donors will have their names on a plaque below each window.

Also on offer was a tour of Walt Disney's former home on Woking Way,  which moved the house a little closer to its goal.

Copyright WDB Restorations, LLC. All rights reserved

The initial goal for Phase One is $40,000.00 - and they're just about halfway there. They're hoping that they can raise funds in time to protect the house Elias built from further damage before winter hits.

This is a really important part of Disney history, and the fact that we, the fans, can actually have a hand in its restoration is a chance I never thought I would have. We would be giving back to Walt's memory, but also giving to future fans, especially the children who visit the CECCI (a children's charity to be based out of the house, The Center for Early Childhood Creativity and Innovation), so that tomorrow's child will be able to learn about Walt and, it is to be hoped, learn how to dream big and make those dreams come true, like Walt did.

Any donation, big or small, will help. Please make a donation at http://startsomegood.com/wdb.

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