Local Disney fans have something to be excited about. The fundraising goal to complete the first phase of restoring Walt Disney's birth home in the Hermosa neighborhood has been met -- and surpassed -- before its upcoming deadline.
The Walt Disney Birthplace Restoration project set up a fundraising page with the goal of raising $40,000 before Friday, Walt Disney's birthday. As of Wednesday, they have raised $46,012.
Phase One of the renovation plan will cover the restoration of the upstairs windows and the original wood siding of the home built by Disney's parents in 1893. The first phase was a crucial step toward completing the project, said Todd Regan, the executive director of the Walt Disney Birthplace Restoration project.
"It means that the house is going to be saved," Regan said.
The next steps to beautify the outside of the house and the landscaping were scheduled to begin this summer, but Regan said they may be able to start early in the spring.
The two-flat home, located in the city's Hermosa neighborhood at 2156 N. Tripp Ave., was purchased by Brent Young and Dina Benadon, who plan to turn the home into "a portal to new approaches in early childhood development (that) helps to inspire future Walts and Roys (Walt's brother)," according to the project's website.
Rather than turning the home into a museum, Regan said it will instead be more of a perfectly preserved historical home. At the turn of the century, Walt lived in the home with his parents and four siblings, and this is the home that the team is hoping to recreate.
"(The house) is a great example ... of a family overcoming a modest financial situation to build a home for their family," Regan said.
Walt was born in the Hermosa home, and the family lived there until Walt was 4 years old when they moved to Missouri.
The City of Chicago tried to designate the home as a historical landmark in 1991, but the then owner fought the city and won.
When all is said and done, Disney fans will be able to visit the home and a nearby visitor center for more information. Its main function will be to inspire future generations to do something great, like Walt.
"If you have a dream and stick to it, you could become the next Walt Disney," Regan said.