Created By: The History Center in Tompkins County
The historic Wharton Studio building is an important early 20th Century artifact, one of only a handful of silent film studios still standing in the United States today.
From 1915 -1921 Ithaca was a vibrant center of motion picture production with the Wharton Studio on the shores of Cayuga Lake attracting some of the best known actors of the day: Irene Castle, Lionel Barrymore, Pearl White, Creighton Hale, and Oliver Hardy (of Laurel and Hardy fame).
Inside the studio building, on the ceiling, one can see original metal tracking that was likely used for moving scenery and walls. Since films were silent, multiple scenes could be shot at the same time. There was no need for "quiet on the set."
The Whartons built outdoor sets and platforms around the studio building and utilized every inch of the natural settings the park had to offer including the lake.
The Whartons had an office the the tall tower (shown in photo) that stood between the Wharton Studio and its sister building across the plaza. The tower was destroyed in Hurricane Hazel in 1954.
Wharton Studio Museum is working on plans, in collaboration with Friends of Stewart Park and the City of Ithaca, to transform the former Studio -- currently used by the City's Department of Public Works for maintenance and storage -- into a park visitor center with exhibits on Ithaca's silent movie history, as well as the history of Stewart Park.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Wharton Studio Silent Film Tour