Hollywood Heritage Inc. is devoted to the preservation of Hollywood’s history. Their museum focuses on film history, especially that of the silent era. The museum is housed by the Lasky-DeMille barn, the oldest surviving film production building in Hollywood. Jesse L. Lasky was a movie producer and co-founder of Paramount Pictures, while Cecil B. DeMille was the director of such hits as The Ten Commandments and Sunset Boulevard.
DeMille barn, now a historic landmark, was built in 1901 by Colonel Robert
Northam to house hay and horses. Its original location was on the corner of
Selma Avenue and Vine Street. In 1904, the Stem family bought the property. The
barn was turned into The Burns and Revier Studio and Laboratory and rented out
to independent movie producers beginning in 1913. That same year, Jesse L.
Lasky founded his Feature Play Company, with Cecil B. DeMille as its head
director. The company would rent the barn and film multiple movies there,
including 1914’s The Squaw Man.
In 1916, the
Lasky Feature Play Company merged with the Famous Players Film Company,
becoming Famous Players-Lasky. Two years later, the group absorbed the film
distribution company Paramount. The barn was then taken from its initial
location to the future home of Paramount Pictures Studios on Melrose Avenue in
1926. DeMille and others held sentiment for the old building and it was
used as a set in some films.
The barn moved
again in the 1970s when it was taken off the studio lot and placed in a parking
lot. After sitting dormant for three years, it was moved to its current resting
place on Highland Avenue, near the Hollywood Bowl. The barn was renovated and
turned into a museum in the 1980s, and despite a fire in 1996 that kept it
closed for three years, the Hollywood Heritage Museum is still open today.
Visitors can walk through the barn and see film memorabilia from the silent
era. Over a hundred years after its construction, the Lasky-DeMille barn stands
as a reminder of the pioneering spirit of early filmmakers who came to California.