The Whartons Studio

A new stunt used by the Wharton brothers in The Mysteries of Myra (1916).[1]

The Whartons, Inc. was an early silent film production company in Ithaca, New York from 1914 to 1919. The Ithaca Studio was established by brothers Theodore and Leopold Wharton on the shores of Cayuga Lake, at the site of what is now Stewart Park. Currently, efforts are underway to create a silent movie museum in the former Wharton movie studio building in Stewart Park. [2]

Ithaca (1912 - 1920)Edit

After filming a Cornell-Penn football game on the way to visit family in Ludlowville, New York, Theodore Wharton returned to Ithaca in 1913 with a cast and crew that included Francis X. Bushman and Beverly Bayne.

A year later, his older brother Leopold joined him, and the two set up the Whartons Studio and began making films. The Wharton brothers were responsible for bringing many famous movie stars to Ithaca on the overnight train from New York City, making Ithaca the unofficial capital of the silent film industry. The movies were shot within elaborate studio sets and in natural sites around Ithaca including the gorges on the Cornell University campus and in the woods near Beebe Lake.

Santa Cruz (1926 - 1931)Edit

In the early 1920s, the Wharton studio moved from Ithaca to Santa Cruz, California in response to promotion by Santa Cruz mayor Fred Swanton.[3] By then the majority of the film industry had settled in Southern California and Hollywood because of the ability to shoot year-round.[4] The studio was incorporated as Wharton Film Classics, Inc. Leopold died in 1927 and Theodore in 1931, without ever making a movie in the city. Much of the evidence of the brothers' prolific cinematic career was lost in 1929, when hundreds of nitrate-based film reels belonging to the Wharton Brothers spontaneously combusted in the storage shed at the home of their lawyer. [5]

Films produced at Ithaca StudiosEdit

  • The Crooked Dagger (1919)
  • The Red Peril (1919)
  • A Romance of the Air (1918)
  • April Fool (1918)
  • The Eagle's Eye (1918)
  • Mission of the War Chest (1918)
  • The Candidate (1918)
  • The Missionary (1918)
  • Below Zero (1917)
  • The Great White Trail (1917)
  • The Black Stork (1917)
  • Patria (1917)
  • The Crusher (1917)
  • Beatrice Fairfax (1916)
  • The Lottery Man (1916)
  • The Mysteries of Myra (1916)
  • Hazel Kirke (1916)
  • The City (1916)
  • The New Adventures of J. Rufus Wallingford (1915)
  • The Romance of Elaine (1915)
  • The New Exploits of Elaine (1915)
  • The Stolen Birthright (1914)
  • The Exploits of Elaine (1914)
  • The Fireman and the Girl (1914)
  • A Prince of India (1914)
  • The Pawn of Fortune (1914)
  • The Warning (1914)
  • The Boundary Rider (1914)


  1. ^ "Unique Stunt by Whartons". The Moving Picture World. June 17, 1916. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2015-03-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Ross Eric Gibson (February 1, 1994). "Hollywood Came to Santa Cruz: Huge Redwoods Seen as Western Backdrops". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  4. ^ "Why Santa Cruz has been selected as the location for the studio and production activities of Wharton Film Classics, Inc". Wharton Film Studio Promotional Brochure. c. 1927. Archived from the original on January 10, 1998. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  5. ^ "Wharton Studio History". Wharton Studio Museum - Ithaca, NY. Retrieved 6 March 2019.

External linksEdit