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My Amazing Look Inside Walt Disney’s Birthplace Home

My Amazing Look Inside Walt Disney’s Birthplace Home

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Who would have thought 100 years of magical storytelling began in a small house in Chicago, Illinois? Walt Disney’s birthplace home opened to the public for the very first time, and I got an amazing look inside. Waiting in the cold rain for an hour was well worth it!

Walt Disney’s Birthplace Home

Credit: Monica

Located in a small Chicago, Illinois community, Walt Disney’s birthplace home has never been open to the general public until October 2023. For any fan of Walt Disney, Chicago history, or architecture, his birthplace home is a must-see.

So, when I (Monica) heard the Chicago Architecture Center would be hosting an Open House for the Disney home, I drove the 3.5 hours to get there! It only opened for one weekend (October 14-15), providing a very rare treat for those who were willing to brave the crowds.

I learned all about the history of the home and how the Disney family spent their years there. In addition, I discovered what the current owners are doing to restore the home to its original form. Please join me as I share about my amazing look inside Walt Disney’s birthplace home!

Before Walt was Born

Credit: Monica

Walt’s father, Elias Disney, owned a contracting business and purchased the lot at 2149 Tripp Avenue in 1891. In late 1892, he obtained the permit to build the $800 two-story cottage. His wife, Flora, drew up plans and he built the home. Disney also built three other houses and a church in the neighborhood.

They moved into the 1200 square foot house in early 1893 with their two sons, Herbert and Raymond. Walt’s older brother Roy was born just a few months later.

View of dining room and parlor. Credit: Monica

During the tour, I learned that under the stairs to the second level, this home had something other houses of the time did not: an indoor bathroom. Elias had his own contractor business, and it is thought that he considered his home to be a “show home.”

He installed a toilet room to show prospective clients what he could do. In the kitchen photo below, you can see the stairs and door to the very small restroom (tour guests were not permitted to peek inside).

Credit: Monica

The Disney family crest can be seen on the inside of the front door. Unfortunately, I do not know if this was original to the house or it was installed later on. Regardless, this is a really neat feature to have on display!


Credit: Monica

Walt Disney was born in 1901 in the upstairs master bedroom. Elias and Flora shared the room, and there was a small nursery in the corner. Later on, this is where Walt’s baby sister, Ruth, slept.

Credit: Monica

Hidden in the original flooring, a “safe” held important documents and cigars (pictured below):

Credit: Monica

Herbert and Raymond shared the next largest room of the three. You can still see the spot where the small wood stove sat to provide warmth and some light.

Credit: Monica

Finally, the smallest room was the shared room of Roy and Walt (pictured above). I learned the room was so small that the boys shared a bed as well. The whole house was quite dark as the home currently relies on lamps and natural lightning.

After the Disney Family Moved

Herbert and Raymond’s shared room. Credit: Monica

The Disney family left Chicago in 1906 and headed to the countryside in Marceline, Missouri. In the decades that followed, private owners lived in the house. There is not much known about the house for the majority of the 20th century.

However, we do know some of what changed during that time. A few years after the Disney family moved, the city undertook a massive project of raising the entire street (and all the homes on it) up to protect the homes from the constant flooding. Now it sits higher than it did previously.

Credit: Monica

Because of this, a basement was also added which was not part of the house when the Disney family lived there. At some point, owners constructed an entire back section of the house that is not original. It extends past the kitchen on the first floor and Walt and Roy’s bedroom on the second floor. This is why the dining room and kitchen windows are covered.

In 1991, the city of Chicago attempted to to designate the home as a historical landmark. This would ensure it would never be demolished. Unfortunately, they lost the battle against the owners of the time.

Credit: Monica

Thankfully, in 2013, the home was purchased with the intent of restoring it back to its original form. The new owners and the city of Chicago want to protect the home forever.


Credit: Monica

The current owners, Dina Benadon and Brent Young, are working very hard to restore the Disney home. The house remained closed to the public for several years while major work was completed. It opened briefly in 2016 for select D23 Members after The Walt Disney Company pledged $250,000 for the restoration project. It marked the first tour of the home.

The owners look for clues that provide details of the original home. For example, they found that the trim around the door casing downstairs is original, so it served as template for the rest of the house.

Front door showcases family crest and trim. Credit: Monica

In addition, teams pulled back layers of wallpapers and paint to find original paint color. They matched it as closely as they could when repainting. Much of the flooring upstairs is also the original flooring, as I mentioned above.

There is new siding on the house, and many features have been rebuilt to ensure the integrity of the home is preserved.

Credit: Monica

However, the house is nowhere near complete! In the future, the owners plan to install window screens in the dining room and kitchen that show what the backyard would have looked like when the Disney family lived there. It would be really neat to see the kids playing in the yard!

I would really love to see more furnishings in the home after the bulk of the contractor work is complete. The kitchen only had a replica of the sink that would have been used. In each room, concept art showed what could be done with each space in the future.

Final Thoughts

Credit: Monica

All in all, I had a wonderful time touring the home. I toured Walt’s apartment at Disneyland, and seeing his birthplace home felt like another stop on his life story. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to step inside all the places he called home?

At this time, there is no mention of when the home will open again to the public. Even so, if you are ever in the Chicago area it is worth a stop to simply drive by, get out, and snap a photo of the home. After all, it was all started with this house.

Did you know Walt was born in Chicago? Have you ever been by his birthplace home? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and pass this post along to a friend who may find this interesting!

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Lois Nunn

Monday 16th of October 2023

Wonderful. Thank you Monica for this great piece. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My daughter works in Disneyland so I will be sending this issue to her so she can enjoy it too. Appreciate all your hard work and look forward to your next bit of news. L. Nunn

Monica Street

Tuesday 17th of October 2023

Thank you for reading! It was a very special day.

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