A bungalow that appears in Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. (1924), and in his early short film Convict 13 (1920), is still standing today at 4908 McKinley Avenue, when it was moved 11 miles away from Buster’s studio in 1926, the third time the modest home had been moved in less than six years.
Built prior to 1912, a pair of small bungalows once stood at 6206 and 6200 Eleanor, half a block east from the Keaton Studio front corner office. Remarkably the pair of homes was moved twice, first in 1920, and again in 1921. Even more remarkably, one of the pair survives today after being moved a third time in 1926.
The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety posts searchable historic building permits and other records online – accessible at https://www.ladbs.org/services/check-status/online-building-records. The permits tell an incredible story. When the California Laundry purchased the corner of Eleanor and Vine in order to build a large two-story cement laundry building, it moved the pair of Eleanor bungalows a block south under permits issued on October 21, 1920.
Above, looking NE with what would become the Buster Keaton Studio in the foreground, 6206 Eleanor is moved to 6207 Romaine; 6200 Eleanor is moved to 6209 Romaine.
For some reason, the California Laundry, owner of the bungalows, moved them again just 5 months later from Romaine to Lillian Way. Above, looking SE, 6209 Romaine moved to 1010 Lillian Way; 6207 Romaine moved to 1016 Lillian Way.
Above, looking south, 1016 Lillian Way was moved again in 1926. Notice the large California Laundry facility facing Eleanor, where the pair of homes originally stood, and the prominent foundations along Romaine where the pair of homes had recently stood.
I had always been intrigued by the pair of bungalows appearing so prominently in Keaton’s The Balloonatic (above), and somehow sensed they looked similar to the homes appearing in Convict 13 (further above). But it never occurred to me that they were the same homes, and I always assumed they had long since been demolished. That changed when I recently discovered three small duplexes built across from the Keaton Studio were moved in the 1940s and 1950s, and are still standing (see below). Realizing that homes were once commonly moved, I checked the city permits, and was stunned to learn this incredible story.
Decades later, peripatetic homes that once stood watch over the Keaton Studio can rightfully claim a tangible link to early Hollywood history.
Below, Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. co-star still standing at 4908 McKinley Avenue.
You may or may not recall the messages, photos and updates I sent you after my visits to Cottage Grove and Culp Creek in April of 2015.
Living in Ontario, I don’t and likely won’t have anything to add to your continued postings.
I just wanted to say that I always appreciate getting them – particularly when they relate to Buster’s film locations. They always make for a few minutes of enjoyable time travel, and pleasant distraction from other cares of the day. Please keep up the good work. ☺
Thank you Ian – I appreciate this. Also, thank you once again for your news and photos about The General. It’s been 20 years since I’ve last been able to visit Cottage Grove, so your reports are greatly appreciated. Best wishes, John
We love taking all of these time travel adventures with you — thanks!
One wonders if moving houses was an act of reasonable frugality at the time (“waste not, want not”) or if there had been a shortage of construction workers. It is always a treat to see surviving present day “ghosts” of the silent era, but this is incredible! Ghosts that moved?!?!🏠👻😂😂
Thank you – from what I’ve encountered it was fairly common back then to move houses. Frugal, but also a viable option, given how much open land there still was at the time. This is one of my all-time favorite, deep in the weeds discoveries. The story itself, and the fact there are tools available now to confirm this 95 years later, are both nearly beyond belief.