CHICAGO – It is a modest, two-story frame house, sitting on the corner of Tripp Avenue and Palmer Street in Chicago's working class Hermosa neighborhood.
But the story behind this humble green-and-gray structure is what makes it special. In 1891, a young itinerant contractor named Elias Disney bought an empty lot at what is now 2156 N. Tripp Av. for $700. His wife, Flora, then designed the house, which Elias built himself.
The Disneys and their two young children moved in in 1893. Another child, Roy was born soon after that. Then came another son, Walter Elias Disney, who was born in a second-floor bedroom at the house on Dec. 5, 1901.
While the company that Roy and Walt would eventually start has become known throughout the world, the Chicago house where they were born is somewhat off the radar, even to Disney scholars.
"[The Disney family] moved from the Tripp Avenue house when Walt was still very young," said Michael Barrier, the author of "The Animated Man," a 2007 biography of Disney. "It's not like Walt would have had any formative memories of being there. So people tend to think of Disney as a product of Missouri, where the family eventually moved."
But that may change as soon as the end of this year. Brent Young and Dina Benadon, the present owners of the house, want to slowly reopen the property to the public, starting with the predominantly Hispanic community where the house is located.
"Our hope is that we can open this home to some of the local neighborhood kids to see what's inside the home, and understand who lived here," Young said. "We believe there's a lot of parallels between Walt and Roy's story and what kids in Hermosa go through today. This was a humble, working-class home and these are working-class homes today. But this house is a symbol of the American dream."
When Young and Benadon, a married couple from Los Angeles who own a media company called Super 78 that produces animated movies for theme park rides, bought the property in 2013, their plan was to preserve it to its original state.
But now those plans have been expanded. They also want to establish a museum on the site that would re-create what life was like for the Disneys in Chicago back in the early 20th century.
The couple have also reached out to the Disney Co., including head Disney archivist Becky Cline, for help with research on the family's history in Chicago.
"It's been slow to get Disney's involvement," Benadon admitted. "But we've been earning their trust along the way, showing them how serious we are in restoring this house to its original state."