Walt Disney’s First Animation Studio To Receive $7 Million Renovation

The non-profit hoping to renovate the Disney Laugh-O-Gram (McConahay) Building is seeking a $500,000 state tax credit to offset the costs of their nearly $7 million restoration project. The Laugh-O-gram Building, now a Kansas City historic landmark owned by developer Butch Rigby, was the site of Walt Disney’s first animation studio, where he and 11 employees created cartoon reels.

Of course, in May 1922, Walt Disney created the professional film studio alongside his friend Ub Iwerks in the brick building designed by architect, Nelle Peters. Moreover, the duo would dream up creations that would spawn future artistry like the Alice Comedies and Julius the Cat, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and even Mickey Mouse.

Laugh-O-Gram office in the McConahay Building

Credit: Walt Disney Archives

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Located “along the Troost Avenue corridor,” the 10,000-square-foot structure comprised of two stories once rented five west-end rooms to the intrepid animator. What’s more, before relocating to Los Angeles, California in 1923, Walt Disney even called the cartoon studio home!

Since 1995 rescuing the Laugh-O-Gram Building from demolition in 1995, Rigby’s non-profit, Thank You Walt Disney, Inc., has “committed to saving Walt Disney’s Kansas City history and providing a place for art and animation study while encouraging confidence and entrepreneurial individualism.”

Kansas City nonprofit planning $7M renovation of Disney's Laugh-O-Gram  studio

Credit: Fox 4 News Kansas City

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Now, Thank You Walt Disney, Inc., seeks to “completely restore the building… to tell the story of Walt’s Kansas City animation legacy and as an inspirational center for innovation in digital media entrepreneurship and education.” As a result, the city applied for tax credits on the non-profit’s behalf last month, and Thank You Walt Disney informally presented their case to the Missouri Development Finance Board this week.

If the board accepts, they will receive up to $500,000 to put towards the Laugh-O-Gram Building’s estimated $7 million restoration to return the former studio to its original glory and rehabilitate it for public use today.

young walt disney

Credit: D23

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DisneyTips will continue to provide updates on this story as they become available. Click here for more information on the Laugh-O-Gram Building and Thank You Walt Disney, Inc.

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About Spencer Beck

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the halls of the Walt Disney Family Museum, and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @pinknpurble everywhere.