A car crashed into the historic McConahay Building overnight, knocking over scaffolding and construction equipment on the brick building, said Butch Rigby, chairman of the local nonprofit Thank You Walt Disney Inc.
The car ran into a corner on the north side of the building which holds the Walt Disney Laugh-O-Gram studio office. It broke an opening and knocked out bricks. The building was already undergoing renovation.
The Laugh-O-Gram studio, which is one block east of Troost Avenue, was an animation studio that produced a series of silent short films. It’s also where Walt Disney got his inspiration for Mickey Mouse.
There were no details on what kind of car slammed into the building. It was reported just after 4 a.m. Kansas City police said the driver ran from the scene and the car was towed from the building Saturday morning.
The crash also damaged power lines that blocked traffic in the area.
The historic building is currently undergoing a $5.5 million renovation to become a museum and education center for young Kansas Citians. Rigby said they were currently tuckpointing the building, which means they were putting new mortar in between all the bricks as part of the renovations to the face of the building. But now the renovations will be a little delayed, Rigby said.
“We’ll fix it,” Rigby said. “I have a background in building renovation, I’ve done 25 buildings so I’m very familiar with it and this is something that can and will be repaired.”
As Rigby stood by and inspected the damage, construction workers from Dello Eco Industrial picked up the bricks and concrete that were scattered on the street.
“We can’t wait for this building to be serving some of the young people in the area, as it did a young man 100 years ago named Walt Disney,” Rigby said.
The 10,000 square-foot building was Disney’s office when he formed his company at age 20 in Kansas City. The Laugh-O-Gram company went bankrupt and closed its doors in 1923. Disney then moved to California where he became a pioneer in the film and animation industry and a cultural icon.
Rigby’s hope is that the building’s renovation will be completed and the museum will be opened in 2023 — 100 years after the building closed down.
“I want people to know that this building and this area has its best days ahead of it,” Rigby said. “And this is something that can be saved. It’s a setback. I think it’s important that if people do want to make a contribution that any amount helps. But on the other hand, I want people to come here, be a part of Troost Avenue, visit this area and see the great things that are going on around 31st and Troost.”