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Paragon Studio

John St. just off Catherine St.
Active 1916-1952

The last to be built and the only studio to have a building still standing, Paragon Studio was located on a large odd shaped 5 acre piece of land west of the corner of John and Catherine streets.  Paragon Films, Inc. was incorporated on March 31, 1915, and construction was completed in 1916.  It was the most modern studio in the world built at the time.  

The studio stood on a large tract of land and had 20,000 square feet of studio, offices, dressing rooms, etc. under a large glass-roofed structure. The 200x200' foot structure was 75 feet high and two rotating stages. The stages had a 4 set capacity.  Shooting could take place on one side, which construction crews worked on the other sides getting ready for the next scenes. This led to an increased efficiency in production time.  Paragon also had an extensive backlot where they could erect elaborate outdoor sets to shoot period pieces.  

Jules Brulatour, a native of New Orleans, had a financial interest in nearly every Fort Lee studio.  However he owned this one all by himself. As distinct from the studio and property, Maurice Tourneur , the famous director and William Brady, who ran Peerless into the ground, were partners with Brulatour in the production arm of the business. They distributed the product through World. This completed a triad of businesses for the team with Peerless producing standard fare, Paragon producing upscale movies,and World providing distribution.

By the end of 1916, Tourneur was looking for a new distribution partner, turning away from World. He turned to Paramount who was the distribution arm for Adolf Zukor's Famous Player-Lasky production company. In the fall of 1917, Zukor bought  the entire studio, needing more studio space to supplement his New York studio until his new studio in Astoria was completed in 1920. The studio took the name of it's new controlling interest: Famous Players-Lasky Studios. All the studio signs were changed.

As Zukor left Paragon in 1920, in June of that year  Lewis J. Selznick moved in, giving him control of about 2/3 of all the studio space in Fort Lee.

Meanwhile, Broulatour, who occupied a small corner of the building launched Hope Hampton Productions (named for his girlfriend), a low-end production company. It didn't last long.

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In 1925 control passed to Henri Diamont-Berger who attracted independent production and did some low budget direction.  The last picture at Paragon was shot in 1926 and eventually, the studio became warehousing for stage and television sets, costumes and props.

In March of 1952, while under control of Kaj Velden Company, the studio suffered the same fate that virtually all other Fort Lee studios suffered: it caught fire and burned to the ground.

The only remnants of the movie business remaining in Fort Lee are two building on the Paragon property: the Paragon administration building and the Sen Jacq Film Print Co. on the west end of Brulatour property.  Both have been refurbished into modern buildings.

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See Paragon on the Map

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