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Kenosha, Wisconsin

Orson Welles Birthplace

The birthplace of a titan of American cinema. 

A marker and plaque commemorate the birthplace of Orson Welles – celebrated filmmaker and actor – at what is now an unassuming duplex in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Originally built in the late 19th century, the home was occupied by Welles’ father, Richard H. Welles, from 1912 to 1920, with Welles himself being born in 1915. Welles lived in the home until the age of five, and his ancestry is almost entirely Kenosha-based.

Despite such deep ties to the city, Welles had mixed feelings about his hometown, at one time calling it “vital and charming” and later describing it as “a terrible place.” Such bombast was typical of Welles’ larger-than-life character, which would inspire him to create such cinematic masterpieces as Citizen Kane, A Touch of Evil, and The Magnificent Ambersons.

Although Kenosha’s commemoration of their hometown hero is modest, there is nonetheless something awe-inspiring about making the pilgrimage to the birthplace of America’s most celebrated filmmaker. Just remember to respect the privacy of the house’s current tenants; though it may be a special landmark for film buffs, it’s also a private residence.