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Although William Selig is usually credited with building the first studio in Los Angeles and shooting the first feature in the city, the first studio in the city of Hollywood was the Nestor Studio, established by David Horsley.
Not having obtained a license to use filmmaking equipment from Thomas Edison’s East Coast Motion Picture Patents Company, the Nestor Studio (formerly the Centaur Film Company of Bayonne, New Jersey) moved to California in 1911.
Through a contact they made on the train to the west coast, Horsley and writer-director Al Christie met the owner of the Blondeu Tavern. Located at the northwest corner of Sunset and Gower, the small roadhouse was struggling as a result of Hollywood’s recent liquor ordinance.
The Nestor Company leased the building for thirty dollars a month, and built the first Hollywood film stage ever on the site. It consisted of a wooden platform measuring twenty by forty feet, with large sheets of muslin hung on cross wires fifteen feet up to diffuse the natural light used for filming. Each wall of their forty-foot square stage had a different background. The carpenters used their own tools; and when production started, the actors supplied their own wardrobe.
They began creating the first movies ever made on a Hollywood stage – including "Her Indian Hero" and "The Law of the Range." The studio would often shoot a couple one-reelers or two-reelers at a time, filmed from scripts usually written the night before.
Carl Laemmle, who formed Universal Pictures, absorbed the Nestor company and others 1912. Director Al Christie continued to make many films at the expanded studio under the banner "The Christie Comedies" until the early 30s, when the facility became a rented lot.
In 1936, the Nestor / Christie Studios were demolished to build the Columbia Square facility, which has served as home of Los Angeles radio station KNX 1070AM, and television station KNXT Channel 2 (later renamed KCBS).
The new building - at the time of this writing - is available for lease.
Alleman, Richard. Hollywood: The Movie Lover's Guide. New York: Broadway Books, 2005.
Palmer, Edwin O. History of Hollywood. Hollywood: Edwin O Palmer, 1938.
Schessler, Ken. This is Hollywood. Los Angeles: Ken Schessler Productions, 1984.
Wallace, David. Lost Hollywood. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2002.
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