Things You're Just Supposed to Know

Most of the time, Long-Forgotten assumes that readers are already familiar with basic facts
about the Haunted Mansion. If you wanna keep up with the big boys, I suggest you check out
first of all the website, Doombuggies.com. After that, the best place to go is Jason Surrell's book,
The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (NY: Disney Editions, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009)
and Jeff Baham's The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion (USA: Theme Park Press, 2014).

This site is not affiliated in any way with any Walt Disney company. It is an independent
fan site dedicated to critical examination and historical review of the Haunted Mansions.
All images that are © Disney are posted under commonly understood guidelines of Fair Use.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mansions Known and Unknown

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New artwork added Nov 1, 2012.
A major additions were added Jan 28 and June 2, 2014, in pink.

Who doesn't want to draw a haunted house, especially if you're a good artist and you can?  Perhaps half a dozen different artists took a whack at conceptualizing the Disneyland haunted house between 1951 and 1961.  That may or may not be a record, but it's really not surprising.  As many of you know, even in his earliest ruminations Walt wanted to include a haunted house in any future amusement park he might produce.  This was back when "Disneyland" as we know it was not so much as a twinkle in his eye.

Some of these images are well known, some less so, and some not well known at all.  I thought it would be a nifty idea to gather all of them together into a single location, which I don't think anyone has done before.

It all starts with Harper Goff's 1951 sketch.  I'd classify this one as "pretty well known."  There's no attempt here to figure out how the thing would actually work as an attraction.  This is just concept work.


At first the haunted house was going to be on Main Street, an "old-dark-house-at-the-end-
of-the-street" kind of thing.  This 1953 sketch by Dale Henessy is not as well known as Goff's.



It's because of this Henessey sketch that I am now convinced that Herb Ryman,
under the personal direction of Walt, put a haunted house in this famous sketch:


Many of you know the story.  One of the potential financial backers for the Disneyland project (ABC network) wanted to see something concrete before committing themselves, so Walt and Herb did this sketch in a hurry-up marathon session over a weekend in 1953, and it did the trick.  Anyway, reader refurbmike pointed out in a comment that it may well contain a haunted house, and sure enough, in exactly the same spot as in Henessey's sketch, you find this:



Since Ryman's sketch actually precedes Henessey's, we can be pretty confident that this does
indeed represent a haunted house, since Henessey evidently interpreted it that way.

At least one artwork in this series can be debunked.  The following drawing by Roy Rulin has been identified in a Disney publication as a concept sketch for a Disneyland haunted house.  In reality, it's a concept sketch for a 1956 Hardy Boys television episode, "The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure."  Compare the photo below from the show's opening sequence.  (Special thanks to readers Chris Merritt and Jeremy Fulton for clearing up the old mystery.  A couple of modern-day Hardy Boys, I guess.)



The first artist to come up with a design with serious legs (although that sounds like something Rolly Crump would do) was Sam McKim, about 1957.  Not only did he sketch a haunted house, he did preliminary architectural design on it as an attraction, and he was confident enough about it to put it on one of his classic, cartoon-y, souvenir park maps, as if it was a done deal.  We're not on Main Street any more.  This one is in the back corner of the proposed New Orleans Square, almost in Adventureland.  In fact, it's right about where the Indy Jones ride is today.





In May of 2014 a very rough early sketch was published for the first time:


Joe "Datameister" Cardello, a future Disney Imagineer, has taken a special interest in this disused Sam McKim design and produced a highly-ambitious and very impressive three-dimensional computer-graphic recreation.  You can see the whole set of images HERE.


That takes us to 1957, but in 1957 Ken Anderson was given the haunted house assignment, and the next chapter is very well known indeed.  Ken did a sketch based closely on the Shipley-Lydecker house in Baltimore, and it proved to be the defining look of the building to come.


Two or three artists used Ken's sketch as a springboard for further work, narrowing down the architectural details and conceptualizing the landscape setting.  Most famously, of course, Sam McKim did a paint-over of Anderson's sketch, producing what is perhaps THE most iconic rendering of the HM of all time.  The whole painting seems to swirl with movement.  Yeah, I know I've posted this before, but I never tire of looking at it.


I suppose McKim could take some solace in that fact that at least Ken kept his black cat weather vane.

This anonymous artwork (Anderson again, I think) is obviously still from the 1957-58 phase.
It's based on the Anderson house, putting it into the kind of setting Ken explicitly had in mind.



With this 1961 sketch (actually, a "working elevation" drawing) by Marvin Davis we are getting close to the finished version, but it still retains a number of features from the Anderson version that will be altered within the coming year.  For example, we still have the square Shipley-Lydecker cupola, and we still have McKim's black cat up on top, soon to be replaced with a schooner (sorry, Sam).  We finally have the neat and clean look that Walt demanded, anyway.


In fact, if you compare the Marvin Davis drawing to blueprints of what is actually there, you will notice quite a number of substantial differences, so in my view we are still en route from Ken's first sketch to the final building, although obviously we are getting close.



A similar story about the architectural development of the WDW Mansion could be told too, but naturally it wouldn't have the depth of history or the sheer variety of artistic concepts that the original DL version had.



One alternate worth mentioning is Disney legend Herb Ryman's concept of the WDW HM as an ordinary looking, pre-revolutionary, New England manor house.  It's handsome, yes, but . . . a little dull.


(Major revisions to this post in light of subsequent comments are highlighted in orange.)
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31 comments:

  1. Wonderful post and a very interesting read. Thanks for posting!! :D

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  2. Hi -

    Just a little clarification. I believe that Roy Rulin sketch was actually concept art from a Spin & Marty episode -possibly 'The Live Ghost' from 1955. I remember Dave Mumford telling me this back in 1990s. I've seen that concept art referred to as HM concept art for some time now, but I don't believe it is. And not to be totally picky - but that Marvin Davis "sketch" is actually a working elevation, to be used in construction. Dunno why the cat weathervane wasn't followed though! Likely they made these changes in the field without revising the drawings... just speculation on my part!

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  3. Thanks for the clarifications...I'll make some edits to the post. With regard to the Davis drawing, it you compare it to actual 1962 blueprints of the south elevation, there are really quite a number of differences, so even though you are right that it isn't a "sketch," it still represents something between the Anderson original on the one hand and the final blueprint reality on the other. Obviously, it's a lot closer to the latter than the former, but it isn't quite there yet!

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  4. HBG2 you've done it again. This is indeed a wonderful post and a fascinating read. Always a pleasure dropping in on your blog.

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  5. Chris is correct as usual - this is not WED concept art. My understanding is that this is a Roy Rulin piece created for the Hardy Boys TV serial "The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure" with Tommy Kirk from 1956. Do a Google image search for it, you'll see the same house in the titles. Thanks and great blog as usual!

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  6. Jer -Thanks for clarifying my clarification! I was pretty sure it was something like that...

    Best,
    Chris

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  7. Thanks Jer, you are indeed correct. I'll post a photo, and we can put this baby to bed for good. That's the up side to being wrong in public—someone may correct you, and you learn things you never would have known otherwise!

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  8. Glad I could help. And to think - for years i assumed it was a Goff sketch, go figure...

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  9. How about posting a photo Baltimore's Shipley-Lydecker House for comparison?

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. Let's try this again. I posted a pic of Shipley in an earlier blogging:

    http://longforgottenhauntedmansion.blogspot.com/2010/05/things-fall-apart-centre-cannot-hold.html

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  12. Something else I noticed to go along with this post: Check out the Roy Rulin sketch for the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train on Daveland's site at http://davelandweb.com/nw/. Should be the first image titled "Concept sketch by Rulin, 1956" - anything look familiar? Same kids, didn't even change the pose...

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  13. Wow - totally busted! I wonder if Rulin had a clipping file of source material - and used it in both, figuring no one would notice.

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  14. I have purchased an origional charcoal drawing of the "Westward Ho" by Roy Rulin, it is AMAZING! Why cant I find more information about this amazing artist?

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  15. No one seems to know much about Rulin. Googling around, I see that he did some artwork for The Ten Commandments, and there are a handful of concept sketches for Disneyland out there. Other than that, I got nuthin'.

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  16. wow...such a talent....no information. Thanks for the reply.

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  17. Disney really should have gone back and used the original 1957 Sam McKim concept for Mystic Manor in Hong Kong. It has just the right look to fit into that Adventureland border it originally was designed for.

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  18. I finally got to the bottom of the Roy Rulin discussion. I met with his granddaughter in CA. Story goes, he was one of his top artist from 54-57, he was then conceived to be a communist. At that point Walt had ALL of his art associated with Disney destroyed. He was then shoved out, cast out from the Disney family of artistry. He was an AMAZING detailist and animator. She has inherited most of his "hidden trasures" from the late 50's. Most of it concept art for the park itself.

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    1. Roy Rulin does not have a grandchild in Ca.! I am one of his daughters, I would hope I know. Also he was never a Communist.! He suffered too much in a concentration camp to become a Communist - believe it. If it had been the case, I am sure he would not have been able to continue on in the endeavors and jobs he held. I too have some of his drawings/renderings, other family members have some, his drawings are out there. But he was a mysterious and somewhat secretive personality so it is not a wonder that not much is known of him publicly. Disney employed many artists, and many talented ones. You are right though, he was absolutely an amazing artist and animator, he was an avid traveler, writer and architect...

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    2. More intriguing all the time.

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  19. http://www.laughingplace.com/Lotion-View-159-12.asp
    Here is his work in Fantasyland...

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    1. That's interesting indeed. If that story is right, it should be written up on one of the Disney history websites, and of course it would be great to see the surviving artwork! I've been wondering what became of the Rulin story.

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    2. We will be putting up a website in the near future to celebrate his work. By the way, he was not a communist. Sad.

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    3. Sounds like it will be an interesting story. Strangely, my understanding is that Ward Kimball was about as hard-left as you can get, politically, and yet it seems that he and Walt got on well enough. Looking forward to the Rulin site.

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    4. Unfortunately, people out there seem to make things up when wishing they knew more about Rulin the man / artist than they do. Ultimately, he would be most flattered with all the good talk about him. I so wish he were around to read it and take it all in......and to continue drawing !
      Your blog is an interesting read - hats off to you !

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  20. I will keep you posted...Its taken me 2 years to get this far...I just hate to see talent like this get blacklisted over false reputation.
    Thanks!

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  21. Just wondering -- I've only recently read, that the original 1964 "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House" LP's cover art, credited to Paul Wenzel, would have been "conceptual art" for the Disneyland mansion. Is this really a fact, or just Wikipedia nonsense? Because if it is a fact, then there was yet ANOTHER house suggestion for Disneyland before the Sam McKim creation.

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    1. I hadn't heard that one. IMO, it smacks of urban legend. Usually with concept art, there is at least a half-hearted attempt to put the subject in an environment similar to expected Disneyland reality. In this case we have a huge cemetery covered with unkept grass, an impossible setting by any stretch, so I don't think it's concept art for the park attraction.

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  22. Another drawing worth noting is the Herb Ryman sketch of Disneyland, where he shows the church on Main Street - the church being connected to the Mansion in the original sketch from Harper Goff. My memory seems to recall a graveyard being in that drawing, but I can't find it at the moment....

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    1. No graveyard, but you're right that there may be a haunted house in Ryman's sketch, so I'm going to add it to the post. Thanks!

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