Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Disney's Last House: 355 Carolwood

On June 1 1948, Walt and Lillian bought the lot where they built the house where they lived until their deaths - Walt in 1966 and Lillian in 1997.

The home was located at 355 Carolwood Drive in Los Angeles, on 5 acres in the developing and exclusive Holmby Hills area, and they moved in during February of 1950.

There is very little information on the house itself, but I do know that Walt did not want it to be a mansion like the other homes in the area, because he did not want a staff to maintain it. Almost all literature on Walt's time at this address focus on his building a miniature railroad around the property, which is dubbed the Carolwood Pacific Railroad.

I was able to find the photos above, but they do not provide a very complete picture of the home. Why did the Disneys move from the super home on Woking Way? In my opinion, there are at least two reasons. By 1948, Walt was famous enough that they may have needed more distance between them and the public roadway, and second Walt needed a large level lot on which to build his railroad.

When Lillian died in 1997, the property was sold. The new owners promptly tore down the house, siting structural problems and asbestos. Who knows if that is true, but the home they built in 2001 to replace it is shown as it appears on Zillow. It is 22,396 square feet and has 7 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms.

Yeowza. That should keep the house staff busy.


Dan said...

The Disneys left the home on Woking Way because the home had a faulty gas line which caused Walt's parents to be asphyxiated by gas and that is where Elias and Flora died. If this happened to your parents would you want to live in the house?

Walt thought he ought to purchase a new home and that is where the home at 355 Carolwood Dr. in Los Angeles came into the picture.

J said...

Hi Dan,

Wow, I did not know that. Thanks for the information.

No, certainly, if that happened to anyone in my house I would not continue to live there. Very sad indeed.

Thanks again

dave said...

Hi Dan,
Disney's mother died after being asphyxiated by gas at a home he and his brother Roy bought for his parents in North Hollywood, but it was not at his home at Woking Way. His father survived the ordeal and died a couple of years later.

J said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the update. I did a net search right now and came up with this (you were right):

When Walt and Roy became more prosperous with the success of ''Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,'' they wanted to get a nice place for their parents to retire, says Bob Thomas, Walt's biographer. ''Flora and Elias had been living in Portland, Oregon, near their daughter, Ruth. Roy and Walt said, ''We want the folks to come down here, where the weather is better, and where we can keep an eye on them and they can watch their grandchildren grow up.'' So Walt and Roy brought them down to Los Angeles and bought them a very nice little house in the valley, close to where Roy lived.'' Said Ruth, ''Those boys would have done everything in the world for their parents.''

Flora and Elias's new home was very comfortable for them, but there was something wrong with the furnace. Walt and Roy sent studio repairmen to take care of the problem, but they didn't do a good job. Flora even wrote to Ruth, who was still living in Portland, that she was concerned about the furnace. ''One night,'' says Bob Thomas, ''Flora was asphyxiated from the gas leak, and, if he hadn't been rescued by the housekeeper the next morning, Elias would have died, too.''

Elias never really recovered -- the loss of his wife, combined with whatever damage was done to him by the fumes, left him a shell of himself. ''He was just lost without her,'' said Walt. ''I never felt so sorry for anybody in my life as I did for Dad. He was really a lost person.''

Anonymous said...

hi just wodering if there re any photos of walt and his home. we visited and saw the mickeys on the gate but were devastated that someone could knock don disneys house. pity i wasnt rich i would have turned it into a shrine as my house is now and would have been honoured to live there mrs minas

Anonymous said...

The Disneys bought their new home sortve a 25th anniversary present to themselves. You can look at pictures of them enjoying the property and the Railroad here.

Anonymous said...

Great News, the Disney Family Museum has recreated the Family Residence in a seasonal Model Railroad exhibit. It is available to view from approximately mid November to approximately mid January.

if you would like to see photographs of the model I found a website that has them...

Here is the link for the Disney Family Museum