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.