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Walt Disney's Barn on Display at Park

July 20, 1999|KARIMA A. HAYNES

Pounding a ceremonial final nail, Diane Disney Miller dedicated a red barn Monday that was once the personal workshop of her father, Walt Disney, and is now on display in Griffith Park.

The 832-square-foot structure was recently dismantled and removed from Disney's former home on Carolwood Drive in Holmby Hills and reassembled at the large-scale model railroad facility operated next to Travel Town by Los Angeles Live Steamers.

The red barn, replete with a rooftop weather vane and side porch, is on loan from the Walt Disney Family Educational Foundation to the nonprofit railroad association, officials said.

By relocating the barn to the park, officials said, they hoped to inform visitors about Disney's favorite hobby of large-scale model railroading and how his backyard tinkering led to legendary innovations in family entertainment.

"This seems to be a lot of fuss for a humble building," Miller said to a knot of dignitaries, Disney fans and news media representatives gathered in front of the barn. "But the things he did here had far-reaching implications . . . it led to Disneyland."

The barn was first seen as a set in Disney's feature film "So Dear to My Heart." Disney developed the design for the barn by recalling early childhood memories of a barn at his family's farm in Marceline, Mo.

When construction began on the Holmby Hills home site in 1949, Disney chose the same design for a barn-style workshop. There, the barn served as the center for operations and a work space for his one-eighth scale live steam Carolwood Pacific Railroad.

The Holmby Hills property was sold last year after the death of Disney's widow, Lillian. The animator's relatives saved the red barn in honor of Disney's love of railroading.

Family members said the red barn was lent to Los Angeles Live Steamers because Disney was a member of the group and because he used to take his daughters to Griffith Park to ride the carousel and play on the locomotives at the Travel Town museum.

Said Miller: "Our heart and our heritage is here in this place."

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