City officials had no idea of the significance of the Danville house when they voted to condemn the property in December (14), three years after its last owner died, but it has since been discovered the Mary Poppins star spent his high school years in the pad after his family relocated from Missouri.

Van Dyke admits he is upset at the prospect of the house being knocked down as he has fond memories of his time in Danville.

He tells, "I was sad to hear it. That's where I spent my whole childhood and so did my brother (actor Jerry Van Dyke). I have a lot of great memories there."

Van Dyke isn't the only youngster who used to hang around the property who went on to find fame.

He continues, "My best buddy was Bob Hackman, Gene's uncle. Gene used to hang around with us and was a lot younger and we used to say to him, 'Why don't you find your own friends?' I saw him years later and said, 'Gene, if I would have known you would have been such a big movie star, I would have been a lot nicer to you!'"

Van Dyke, 89, reveals he would be interested in helping city officials restore his childhood home, adding, "I'd like to know if it's fixable. Then, maybe we can do something... Danville is my home and I do still care."

And he may be in luck - Mayor Scott Eisenhauer is keen to have the home rehabilitated, but only if the city gains ownership from the family of the deceased: "If we were able to gain possession of the property, and there were someone interested in it, and they prove they have the financial means to renovate and do so in a timely fashion, we would consider donating the property to them for that purpose. But right now, we don't own the property."