Disney properties around the world would be missing a huge part of what makes their kingdom magic if it weren't for this Michigan icon and a village he had built with materials from around the world. So where did Walt receive his inspiration for Disney's Main Street? Chances are in a 'village', that's not too far from where you sit right now.

Disney's 'Main Street' Charm Was Inspired By Walt's Trip to Dearborn, Michigan

Library of Congress
Springwells TownshipLibrary of Congress
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In 1919 Henry Ford set out to recreate what he felt was the perfect embodiment of the New England Village Green on several acres in Michigan. The first structure to be placed on the land was Ford's childhood home which once stood 200 yards from where it originally stood, in what used to be Springwells, Michigan.

The Henry Ford via YouTube
The Henry Ford via YouTube
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Ironically the maker of the Model T's birthplace either had to be moved, or demolished in order to make room for a road expansion project. So began Ford's fascination with purchasing and preserving historical buildings.

Related: See the Construction of Michigan's Iconic Mackinac Bridge in Pictures

Thomas Edison's Fort Myers Laboratory from Fort Myers, Florida was next. This is where Ford, in secret, would create his empire by making the engine that would power him to iconic status: the Ford Flathead V8, which would make the car affordable transportation for millions of people across the country.

The Henry Ford via YouTube
The Henry Ford via YouTube
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Fort Myers Laboratory was disassembled, labeled, crated, and loaded onto a train in Ft. Myers only to be unloaded, uncrated, and reassembled in Dearborn. Ford was just getting started purchasing and moving buildings to this locale.

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A general store from Waterford, Michigan, the Clinton Inn (now the Eagle Tavern) from Clinton, Michigan, the Scotch Settlement School, and an import from Postville, Illinois (now known as Lincoln), the Logan County Courthouse, where Abraham Lincoln practiced law as a travel attorney.

The Henry Ford via YouTube
The Henry Ford via YouTube
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All of these buildings and more were arranged around a lush field of grass and eventually became what is now known as Greenfield Village. According to The Henry Ford, Walt Disney visited Ford's collection and it was the inspiration for what would be the centerpiece of his own unique plot of land in Anaheim, California, and recreated in Disney theme parks around the world.

While it's a near certainty that the Disney theme parks would have been successful without the inspiration provided by a few acres of Michigan land, it's nice to know that there is a little Dearborn in every Disney.

Hidden Structures Found in the Woods at Edsel Ford's Retreat

Henry Ford's Home, Built in 1908

 

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