WHEN THE STUDIO BURNED (1913)
Photograph taken early in the afternoon of January 13, 1913, showing the Thanhouser Film Company studio ablaze. (Thanhouser family archive, courtesy of Pego Paar)

On January 13, 1913, the skating rink building burned to the ground. Fortunately, the valuable negatives were saved, and no one was injured. This event became the scenario for one of Thanhouser's most notable productions, When the Studio Burned. Before long, premises on Main Street were secured. Within the next several years, additional structures were erected, so that by 1916 a large complex was in place. Behind the Thanhouser studios, fronting on Long Island Sound, was "Thanhouser Park," three acres in size, with fountains, bridges, and rustic scenery, which was used for filming the 1914 serial, The Million Dollar Mystery, and other Thanhouser films. In a special dedication ceremony in July 1914, the Thanhouser Company made the park available to the people of New Rochelle, for their use when the film company was not active.

A number of outdoor stages were erected in the studio area, and on nice days it was not unusual for several film crews to be active under the sunlight. Contemporary reports tell us that 50, 75, or even 100 or more automobiles would typically be seen lined up and down Main Street, having brought tourists, towns-people, and other curiosity seekers who enjoyed watching the filming. The studio became a magnet for others as well, and countless stories in national newspapers, magazines, and books told of the work at New Rochelle.

   


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