FOUNDED (1909)
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.
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