Legacy Content

Walt's Barn Dedication
Page 1 of 6

by Rebekah Moseley
August 27, 1999
On July 19th the ribbon was cut on Walt's Barn in its new location, Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California. Read the account of these festivities including the July 18th party.

BWbarn.jpg (11962 bytes)
Walt Disney's Barn on the Carolwood property,
it's original location

022fullbarn.JPG (18816 bytes)
Walt Disney's Barn today

Walt Disney's Carolwood Barn finds a new home in Griffith Park

Many are familiar with Walt Disney's love of railroading and know he had a miniature railroad in his backyard on Carolwood drive. Amidst the railroad Walt had a barn built where could monitor and control the 2,615 feet of track that made up his railroad. The barn also served as a workshop and a place for Walt to relax.

Recently, the barn was relocated to the LA Live Steamers at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California. Soon, the barn will be open to the public for tours.  The Carolwood Pacific Historical Society hosted a party for its members and special guests on July 18th to celebrate the Barn's relocation. Click here to read about that celebration. The official ribbon cutting and dedication was held on July 19th and the details of the event begin on this page.

On the morning of July 19th Disney fans, railroaders, members of the Disney family, local government officials and press gathered in shady trees of Griffith Park for the official dedication of Walt Disney's Carolwood Barn.

Michael Broggie, founder of the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society began his remarks by declaring, "His name is as well recognized in Altune as it is in Zimbabwe. Life magazine selected Walt Disney as one of the most influential people of the last 1000 years. That counts Walt Disney among such names as Edison, DaVinci, Einstein, and Mozart. Their citation says he 'invented family entertainment and shared it with the world'. Well the factories where most of that entertainment was produced is just a short distance from the site here this morning. The studio is located over a short distance over here on Buena Vista Street. The wonderful Imagineering facility is located just a short distance over here on Flower Avenue. So there's some magic about being in this area of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. In fact the original site of Disneyland was going to be located within a mile of this site right over in Burbank, just south of the studios. I think all of us who drove here this morning on the freeway are probably glad that Disneyland is down in Anaheim."

033Broggie.JPG (17444 bytes)

Michael Broggie addresses the audience
gathered at the Barn Dedication.

"Walt spent much of his valuable time right here in Griffith Park as he taught his Imagineers about railroading over here in Travel Town. He was a member of the club, the LA Live Steamers. Frequently in the afternoons he would bring his two daughters, Diane and Sharon right here to the Carousel in Griffith Park where they could ride in the afternoon. As a member of the Los Angeles Live Steamers Walt enjoyed being just one of the boys around fellow miniature railroaders. Numerous ideas that Walt used later in Disneyland were originated while he visited here in Griffith Park. In fact the loop of track that goes around this barn is called the Disney Loop because a track from the house was donated to this club."

"So there is another historical connection between Griffith Park and the Disney Railroad operation called Carolwood Pacific. Carolwood is named after the street in the Holmby Hills where the Disney residence was located. Walt said that when he got ready to develop Disneyland he told his designers I want it to be designed like no other place in the world and a steam train to run entirely around it."

"On Sundays when the club members provide the public with free rides on these marvelous miniature trains visitors will be able to see this barn that served as his personal workshop and his railroad center of operations. And at a future date the inside of the barn will be open to the public for guided tours. They'll be exhibits designed to entertain and enlighten about Walt's favorite hobby, miniature live steams. Also information about public safety, which is so important, will also be distributed. And it will foster interest in railroad history."

"The barn has been completely restored to its original condition 50 years ago about this time. The general contractor was Bill Abel took this assignment on and did a wonderful job. The sag over the door was designed into this barn over the door was designed into this barn 50 years ago by Walt Disney cause he wanted this barn to have some character and it reminded him of the barn that his family had back in Marceline Missouri where Walt as he wrote later spent the most wonderful time of his childhood on that farm. In fact later on he wrote that the most important things in his life happened when he was in Marceline."

"...Landscaping was always an important part of any Disney project. Mrs. Disney was an avid landscape enthusiast. She had a lot of input on the landscape of Disneyland. So it wouldn't be right to set this barn here in Griffith Park without also creating the magic of landscaping around it. Valley Crest, Monrovia Nursery and Expertise Growers donated much of the plant materials and all the irrigation equipment."

"The original design of this building was done by a gentleman named John Cowles. He was an art director and architect at the Studios. And he was asked by Walt to design a set for the movie 'So Dear to My Heart' in 1949 a combined animation and live-action feature. This barn was designed on Walt's recollection of his childhood and then when he got ready to develop a barn for his backyard layout he asked John Cowles to design the same barn, which he did. So we have a connection that goes all the way to his childhood."

"There are early vivid memories that I have as a child of me and my older brother when we would go with my father Roger Broggie, his first Disney Imagineer onto Carolwood. And whose special memories are very, very close to me today. And I'm just pleased that so many came here to share this magical moment with the Disney family. Thank you so much."

073soboroff.JPG (17776 bytes)

Steve Soboroff

Steve Soboroff, President of the Los Angeles City Recreation and Park Commissioners was the next speaker of the morning. 

"What child from age 0 to 100 didn't want to grow up and be a child or grandchild of Walt Disney and because of what the family has done everyone of our children that come here gets to share something that only the Disney children and Disney grandchildren ever really knew about. This beautiful piece of history is part of the home of Walt and Lillian Disney and as you go through it and go through it carefully this building will talk to you and it will tell you things that only Walt Disney and Lillian Disney and only the children knew before. It's a great treasure. So much for the low profile of the Live Steamers of Los Angeles! This is a great, great treasure. So on behalf of all the kids of Los Angeles. Diane would you please come up here.

076dianepinned.JPG (19892 bytes)

Steve Soboroff presents Ms. Miller with a pin on behalf of the city of Los Angeles.

Diane, I know you get a lot of things but I'm going to give you something really special. We have keys to the city that a lot of people have. This is a pin for the city of Los Angeles like I'm wearing and if you wear it good things will happen. Diane Disney Miller asks, "To me or the city?" Steve Soboroff replies "both." And then continues, "Because what this lady did for Los Angeles in allowing for us to move this here versus it going to, maybe to Orlando or worse yet being demolished was really, just an amazing thing. For all the big people and little people that want to be related to Walt Disney, they all get a chance.