A view of the Thanhouser Company building, circa 1910-1912. (Courtesy of the American
Museum of the Moving Image/Lawrence Williams Collection)
In 1909, Edwin Thanhouser,
who had made a sizable fortune managing the Academy of Music Theater in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin, decided to enter the motion picture business. At that time, the motion picture
business was in its growth period, the fame of Hollywood and California was not even
dreamed of, and New York City and Northern New Jersey represented the center of business
in America. At first, Edwin Thanhouser contemplated setting up a film business in New York
City, where several other companies had already achieved success, notably the American
Biograph Company and Vitagraph. Edison was actively making films not far away in Northern
New Jersey. At the time, New Rochelle was considered to be the fashionable place for
Broadway producers, successful actors and actresses, and others in the entertainment
business to live. Accordingly, Edwin took the train to New Rochelle, alighted at the
station, and, as chance would have it, encountered a real estate agent nearby who asked
him what he was looking for. Thanhouser told him of his housing requirements, after which
the real estate agent inquired as to his business, and was informed that he would be
looking in Manhattan for a large warehouse-type place where a movie studio and laboratory
could be set up. It so happened that the real estate agent knew of a recently vacated
skating rink building, at the intersection of Warren, Grove and Center streets in New
Rochelle, which might be suitable for such a purpose, and he took Edwin Thanhouser to see
it. Edwin liked it, and, as they say, "the rest is history."
Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.
Copyright © 1988-1993 Q. David Bowers, All rights reserved.