2016 Heritage Award Properties

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Former Home of Author E.L. Doctorow (c. 1908)

170 Broadview Avenue

“In 1902 Father built a house at the crest of the Broadview Avenue Hill in New Rochelle, New York. It was a three-story brown shingle with dormers, bay windows and a screened porch. Striped awnings shaded the windows…The family took possession of the stout manse on a sunny day in June and it seemed for some years thereafter that all their days would be warm and fair.” So begins the sweeping portrayal of early 20th century America, Ragtime. The novel was written by E.L. Doctorow from the attic of his New Rochelle home, at 170 Broadview, in 1975.  The book would win the 1975 National Book Critics Circle Award. It would later be named one of the 100 Best Books of the 20th Century. The award-winning author, whom President Obama cited as “one of America's greatest novelists,” received numerous awards for his work over his long and notable career.  The 1998 National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American letters, the 2013 American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Fiction, and the 2014 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction are among them.

 

E.L. Doctorow and his wife, Helen, moved to the 170 Broadview Avenue home in 1964. He was a great friend of the New Rochelle Public Library where he did research for Ragtime in the library’s history room that is now named for him. Doctorow was inducted into the New Rochelle Walk of Fame in 2013.

 

This Heritage Award recognizes that that 170 Broadview Avenue house was both the home of a nationally prominent individual and the inspiration for a major novel, Ragtime. In addition, the 1908 structure exemplifies the Victorian-style architecture of the period.

Former Thanhouser Film Corporation Studio (1914)

320 Main Street

In 1909, Edwin and Gertrude Thanhouser started the Thanhouser Film Corporation in a former roller skating rink located at the intersection of Centre Avenue and Grove and Warren Streets. The company grew to be one of the earliest and most successful silent movie companies. After a fire destroyed the studio building on January 13, 1913, the Thanhousers quickly located another New Rochelle location. An entire complex, including the main studio building at 320 Main Street, now Tedesco Autobody, was completed by the summer of 1914.

 

When dedicated on July 7, 1914, the 10-acre site was touted as one of the largest film complexes in the country. The main studio was christened the "Glass Palace," as the 6,500 square foot building was crowned in glass to allow for maximum sunlight. Workrooms comprised another 4,800 square feet and executive offices were housed in yet another building. A number of outdoor stages were erected in the studio area, and on nice days it was not unusual for several film crews to be active under the sunlight.

 

For many years, the company released three movies a week - ranging from one-reel films to full "big movie" productions that played in theaters around the nation. Always striving for realism, the Thanhouser producers did not limit themselves to the confines of their state-of-the-art, palatial studios. New Rochelle was, for the company, one enormous set.

 

In 1917 the film industry underwent a depression. Studios laid off people, the quantity of films produced declined, a number of theatres closed their doors, and in general there were hard times. Gradually the Thanhouser Film Corporation phased-out its activities, and by the end of the summer of 1917, the studio had been leased to another company, the Clara Kimball Young Film Corporation. The Thanhouser Film Corporation left a rich legacy, amounting to over 1,000 different films. Today, the main studio building is the home of Tedesco Auto Body.  The rock-faced concrete stone structure continues to feature the fanciful curvilinear parapet of the Spanish Colonial Revival style that was the hallmark of Thanhouser studios.