The Tramp film poster

A request came in from some hardcore cinephiles in Chicago who are on a mission to save and restore the aging film studio complex Essanay, know best perhaps for hiring Charlie Chaplin away from Keystone Studios in 1914.  If you’re interested in helping to preserve a piece of cinematic history, read the excerpt below and visit the

“This is the most important structure connected to [Chicago’s] role in the history of motion pictures.”
– Mayor Richard M. Daley

Before there was Hollywood, there was Chicago. This initiative seeks to preserve and revitalize one of the world’s first and last remaining silent film studios and a unique piece of a great city’s history. The restoration and rebirth of the Essanay Film Studio Complex will provide an opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn and experience the magic and mystery of early film-making and Chicago’s unique role. It will also extend and expand the studio’s cultural legacy by providing a community space for the performing arts. Last, but far from least, it will enhance the educational mission and prestige of St. Augustine College through its stewardship of this historic site and as a community partner and anchor of the historic Uptown Entertainment District.

The Essanay Studios Complex is a precious historical resource—for Chicago and the world. From 1907-1917, the complex housed the film-making operations of the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, home to Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, G.M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson, George K. Spoor, and other influential names in the early film industry. The studio complex, which today houses St. Augustine College, was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1996 in recognition of its importance.

Save and Restore Essanay