Rebuilt over the years, but pre-dating 1912, the Vine Street (Colgrove) Elementary School still stands between Romaine and Willoughby, kitty-corner from the site of the former Keaton Studio block in Hollywood. The back of the school, with its distinctive series of chimneys, appears during scenes filmed looking south down Lillian Way both in Charlie Chaplin’s The Fireman (1916) and in Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. (1924). The school also appears (far left, below) during Buster’s race to the rescue in College (1926), as he turns north from Lillian Way onto west along Romaine, fleeing past the abandoned Metro Studio offices standing across the street from his studio.
The current school campus was built in 1922, 1926, and re-built in 1936. Reportedly Mrs. Eleanor Keaton attended kindergarten here at the time Buster was filming Sherlock Jr.
Remarkably, the far right background of this 1928 photo of the school (above) provides a sneak peek over the Metro Studio fence (due south of the Keaton Studio), to reveal a conspicuous 5-arch backlot set appearing in Cops (1922), Three Ages (1923), and Go West (1925). Although the Hollywood Metro Studio closed in 1924 to join M-G-M in Culver City, Keaton continued to make use of the abandoned studio’s backlot, particularly when filming the many cattle stampede scenes from Go West.
I’ve always been fascinated imagining what it would have been like to wander around Buster Keaton’s studio. I’ve written several posts analyzing vintage aerial photos of the studio, taken in 1921 and 1922, available from HollywoodPhotographs.com. But as shown here, you’ll never know where other images of the studio might pop up, even over an old school fence.
The Romaine Street view of the school.