Here’s the ultimate animation collector’s item: the San Gabriel, California home of animation legend Ward Kimball is currently for sale for $2.2 million. Designed by Robert H. Ainsworth and built for Ward and Betty Kimball in 1939, the home has never been on the market before. It’s been put up for sale by the family after Betty passed away last July at the age of 97.
Sadly, the expectation is that the home itself will be razed, and according to the listing, “Property shall be sold in its present as is condition and mainly for land value only.” There are still some remnants of the legendary backyard railroad, but the trains have been relocated to the Orange Empire Railway Museum, and John Lasseter bought the train station for his own property in northern California. Here’s what the backyard looked like in 2009:
Anybody who is knowledgeable about animation and trains already knows the magical universe that Ward and Betty built on this landmark property. Countless famous people have passed through over the years: Walt Disney and Michael Jackson engineered the train, Wernher von Braun swam in their pool, Rowland Emett slept in the train station, Ray Bradbury shot a TV series in their backyard, Robert Crumb jammed in their living room with his band. Every animation notable from Bruno Bozzetto to Osamu Tezuka to Richard Williams has visited at some point.
I’ve spent innumerable hours at the Kimball home over the past three years, and can attest to what a special site it is. All good things must come to an end however, and after seventy years, it’s sad knowing that the Kimball family will no longer own the place. Their decision is perfectly understandable; the place was Ward and Betty’s creation, and their presence and zest for life is what made 8910 Ardendale so special in the first place. Without them, it’s time to start a new chapter. Here’s to hoping that whoever lives there in the future will appreciate the historical significance of the property.
If you’re interested, the property is repped by Priscilla Yim at Re/Max Premier Properties.
More photos of the Kimball residence in its prime after the jump.