Walt Disney famously started his world conquering film studio in a humble Los Feliz garage. It was 1923 and Disney had just moved to Los Angeles from Kansas City. He was staying with his uncle Robert and aunt Charlotte in a small two-bedroom bungalow on Kingswell Avenue and constructed an animator’s table in the garage behind the house.
Now, as LA Magazine reports, that little bungalow may be going the way of Bambi’s mother. Documents filed with Building and Safety show the house’s current owners have requested a permit to demolish the 1,458-square-foot-home. They’re also seeking a building permit for a new single family residence.
The garage where Disney created his first animated shorts is in little danger from the wrecking ball. The structure was auctioned off in 1982 for $8,500 to a group of ragtag individuals calling themselves the Friends of Walt Disney. They later donated the garage to the Stanley Ranch Museum in Garden Grove, where it still stands today.
Hyun Bae Kim, whose name is listed on the demolition notice, tells Curbed he's helping his brother-in-law and sister manage the property. He says they didn't know about the house's connection to Walt Disney until after they purchased the home. "We found out from the tenant who was moving out of the house that Disney started his studio in the garage," he says.
When they learned from the tenant that the garage had been relocated, Kim says they figured no one would mind if they tore down the house. The plan is to replace it with a two-story, three-bedroom residence measuring about 3,000 square feet.
Property records show the Kingswell Ave home was sold in May for $750,000. That’s only a little less it was asking when it hit the market in 2009 with a $769,000 price tag and a listing description informing buyers that, "walt desney used live here when he first move in califoria."
Given the home’s historical significance (Walt’s brother and longtime Disney CEO Roy Disney was also married there in 1925), it seems likely the demolition will encounter a fair bit of resistance before it’s finally approved or denied. Last year, Survey LA identified the property as a significant cultural and historical resource.
Kim says he's been surprised at the response to the plans for demolition. Already, he says, he's fielded calls from people who are outraged. Kim says he and the other owners of the home are willing to entertain preservation options; they're meeting with representatives from the Valley Relics Museum who have expressed interest in the property. He also stresses the home needs some costly renovations.
Meanwhile, the building that housed Disney’s first real studio still stands just down the road. It’s home to a skateboard store and a copy shop.
- The Home Where Walt Disney Founded His First Studio Is Set to be Demolished [LA Magazine]
- Walt Disney's First Studio Is Still Standing in the Middle of LA [Curbed LA]
- Walt Disney's Old Los Feliz Crash Pad [Curbed LA]