The birth of moving making in Chicago

Selig Polyscope

Chicago's First Studio

Selig Polyscope

3900 N. Claremont Ave., Chicago
Active ca 1903-1918

William Selig was true showman.  From an early age he ran his own traveling troupe of players.  He performed while managing the business.  While playing in Dallas, Texas he saw an Edison Kinetescope for the first time.  the Kinetescope was one of the first movie viewing devices (not a movie theater, but a one-person movie viewer).  After seeing the Kinetescope first hand, he decided he could make movies, too.

In 1896 Selig launched his company, Selig Polyscope, and hired mechanic and metal worker Andrew Schustek to build a camera and projection system based on the French Lumiere camera in an attempt to avoid Edison's patent restrictions.  By 1907 he was shooting movies, mostly short documaentaries and  recreations of famous events (Teddy Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill, etc.), and was distributing the movies of famed French magician, George Méliès.

In 1907 Selig built Chicago's first movie studio studio at 3900 N. Claremont Ave. on the corner of Byron.  The four acre lot boasted two large glass stages (pictured on the left and below), several outdoor stages and sets, a good sized backlot, and administration building.

In 1908 Selig moved his operation base to California.  This lot remained active until 1918, when Selig shut down the business.

Today the main stage survives as a condo complex.

Selig Photo Gallery

Click to enlarge

Please contact me if you would like a copy of this image

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