Open House Chicago 2013


Essanay Studios (St. Augustine College)

Best known for its 1915 series of Charlie Chaplin comedies, Essanay Film Manufacturing’s Chicago studio was founded in 1907 by motion picture exhibitor George Spoor (S) and actor Gilbert Anderson (A). The entrance of Essanay (“S” and “A”) Studios is marked by a multicolored glazed terra cotta doorway, which is decorated with Native American iconography. Used by film industry companies until the 1970s, it was designated a Chicago city landmark in 1996 as “the most important structure connected to the city’s role in early motion pictures.” Today, St. Augustine College—an independent, bilingual institution of higher education founded in 1980—occupies the Essanay Studios property. The college is engaged in the restoration and reuse of the original production facility as the Essanay Centers for Early Film and Cultural Performance.

Behind the Scenes Access: Visit the former film production space with original catwalks, now known as the Charlie Chaplin Hall. See a brief digital presentation that gives an overview of the restoration and reuse project followed by the 20-minute Essanay film “His New Job” featuring Charlie Chaplin, Ben Turpin and the debut of Gloria Swanson. Popcorn will be served.

Dates: October 19 & 20, 2013

Hours:  Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 9am-5pm

Architect(s): Jeremiah J. Cerny, 1908


Information about Open House Chicago is available here.
Information about volunteering for Open House Chicago at Essanay Studios is available here.

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