Silent Films made in San Rafael

The CMPC’s Glass Stage, San Rafael, circa 1914. Director George Middleton on the far right. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

The Sun Valley neighborhood of San Rafael was once home to the California Motion Picture Company (CMPC), a pioneer of feature-length films specializing in bringing to life the early history of California.

Their elaborate studios, built in early 1914, were bounded by Forbes and 5th Avenues and J and K streets.

When CMPC executives decided to build a state of the art Motion Picture Studio, San Rafael was chosen as the ideal spot. A March 26, 1914 Marin Journal piece noted that: “…the California Motion Picture Corporation, declares the light and atmospheric conditions at San Rafael ideal for camera work.”

Their studio comprised about eight buildings including a large glass-enclosed stage, a film laboratory, dressing rooms, a carpenter shop, employee lunch room and a brick vault for film storage. There were also several buildings to house their many authentic props, including an original Wells Fargo stage coach.

The photograph featured here depicts the studio’s glass-enclosed stage where they could film interior scenes using natural light. It comes from an archive housed in the Anne T. Kent California Room from the estate of former California Motion Picture Corporation Director George Middleton.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of this long-forgotten studio, we invite you to a presentation by California Room Librarian Laurie Thompson at the Corte Madera Library, 707 Meadowsweet Drive, on March 20, 2017 from 10:30 am to 12 noon.

This free event is co-sponsored by the Corte Madera Library and Corte Madera Parks & Recreation Department.

Originally published at



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Anne T. Kent California Room

Anne T. Kent California Room

The official Medium account of the archive of Marin County history & culture at the Marin County Free Library