Thanhouser Film Co.
33-37 E. 8th St., Jacksonville
Built at a cost of $50,000 this studio was the winter home of the very popular New Rochelle based Thanhouser Film Company. Thanhouser Film Company was founded in 1909 by Edwin Thanhouser, who owned a chain of theaters. Their first movie, shot in New Rochelle, was released in 1910.
Before opening this studio, Edwin Thanhouser sold the company to Charles Hite in 1912. Hite was one of the original owners of American Film Company out of Chicago with a large studio in Santa Barbara. Thanhouser's plan was to retire. Unfortunately in 1914 Charles Hite died from injuries from a car accident. The company’s stockholders convinced Edwin Thanhouser to take back control of the company and in 1915 he made plans to build the Jacksonville studio.
Located in the former Rico Steam Laundry, the Jacksonville studio, opening in December of 1915, included Jacksonville’s only glass stage, and an additional outdoor, open air stage. The glass stage was so big that the company could shoot on 6 sets simultaneously.
Changes in the movie business were rapid by this time. Our entry into WWI was hard on the industry as much of the industry’s revenue came from European sales. The one reel films that Thanhouser became known for were becoming obsolete in favor of feature length 5 reelers.
Thanhouser’s brand of sophisticated comedies were replaced by the slapstick antics of the Keystone Kops, Harold Lloyd, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and Charlie Chaplin.
Edwin Thanhouser lost interest and failed to keep the pace. The Jacksonville studio was silent by May of 1916, a lifespan of less than 6 months. Thanhouser’s last movies made in Jacksonville and New Rochelle were completed and scheduled for release by June, but several never made it out the door. The New Rochelle plant was dark by the fall except for the business office. Their last film was released in 1917. Edwin set a spring 1918 date for his retirement and the closing of the company.
During this period many companies went bankrupt. Thanhouser was not one of them. They closed their doors debt free.
Jacksonville’s studios were gone by 1917.