Before Hollywood there was
L.A.'s First Movie Enclave
Just east of Hollywood is the small Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake. In the last century, at the dawn of the movie business, it was called Edendale and was the home of Los Angeles' first studio enclave, before there was Hollywood.
These studios were owned by some of the original movie moguls, many of them coming west from the other original "Hollywood," Ft. Lee, New Jersey, and the other big movie centers, New York and Chicago. These men included William Selig, William Fox, Carl Laemmle, Fred J. Balshofer, Thomas Ince, and the "King of Comedy" Mack Sennett.
Edendale prospered as Los Angeles' first movie center. The area buzzed with movie activity from 1908 until the last studio closed in 1927. This was the home of the Keystone Cops with paddy wagons flying up and down the streets causing chaos breaking the normalcy of street traffic. Edendale was the home of the pie throw, bathing beauties and the site of Charles Chaplin's earliest movies.
By the time the Edendale was over the studios all moved to the area we now call Hollywood, USA. These are among the studio names that called Edendale home:
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Some of the biggest stars and directors of the era called Edendale home
Charles Chaplin got his movie start here with Mack Sennett's Keystone Comedies before going on to be the biggest star of the silent era. The greatest comedy star of the late teens, Roscoe Arbuckle worked out of the area along with his comedy partner, Mable Normand, in their "Fatty and Mable" comedies made by Sennett. Arbuckle later returned with his own company, Comique Comedies, before a scandal ended his career. The biggest cowboy star of the era, Tom Mix, called this home during his star years. Gloria Swanson of Sunset Boulevard fame and Carole Lombard, Golden Era superstar, got their starts as a Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties. Early superstar Clara Kimball Young moved her production company to Edendale for several years.
Key Dates in the History of the Edendale Studios
- 1908 "Colonel" William Selig buys land and begins construction on what will become California's first permanent studio.
- 1909 Selig opens his studio at 1845 Allesandro.
- 1909 New York Motion Picture Company joins Selig and opens its Bison 101 studio under Fred Balshoffer's leadership.
- 1909 Thomas Ince replaces Balshoffer at Bison.
- 1910 The French film company, Pathé Frères, opened their Pathé West Coast Studio needing a locale to make Westerns that was more authentic than their Fore Lee, NJ location.
- 1912 Ince moves Bison to SantaYnez Canyon.
- 1912 a large merger of several small companies created Universal Pictures. NYMPC was one of the partners and the Bison lot came with the deal. Later that year Kessel and Bauman backed out and took back control of the lot.
- 1912 NYMPC partners with Mack Sennett to take over the lot. Sennett expands to three blocks at the corner of Allesandro and Effie.
- 1914 Norbig Studios opens as rental lot.
- 1914-1925 Tom Mix, the biggest star with both Se.ig and Fox, provided a 10.5 acre piece of land (a portion of which he later bought) to set up his "Mixville" for making Westerns.
- 1915-1916 William Fox leases the Selig lot while he builds his new lot in Hollywood
- 1915 Sennett expands to 6 acres on three corners at Effie and Allesandro.
- 1916 Short-lived Fuji Yama and United studios open at 1766 Allesandro.
- 1917 Sennett cuts ties with NYMPC and signs a distribution deal with Paramount. He becomes an occasional tenant of the vacant Selig lot.
- ca 1917-19 Senett subleases the Selig lot to this friend and mentee, Roscoe Arbuckle.
- 1919-25 Clara Kimball Young, silent movie superstar, made her first California homebuying the Selig studio. The studio was called Garson Studios.
- 1922-24 Reguer Productions takes over the Norbig lot and stays until the studio closes down
- 1925-29 Garson Studios is used as a rental lot to a variety of small production companies.
- 1927 After a long, productive career in Edendale, Mack Sennett begins construction on a new studio in Studio City and moves in during 1927-28
- 1928 Sennett closed Edendale studio.
- 1932 Sennett and Selig Edendale studios demolished. Thus ends Edendale as a movie enclave