Academy dedicates Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study

Dec 06, 2002 by Ian Evans

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. were linked again as a contemporary Hollywood couple Thursday night (12/5) when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dedicated its new building at Vine Street and Fountain Avenue as the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, joining the Fairbanks Center in Beverly Hills as one of the organization’s two major centers of film research and preservation.

The Pickford Center, at 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood, is the home of the Academy Film Archive and the Academy Players Directory. The Fairbanks Center at La Cienega and Olympic boulevards in Beverly Hills is the home of the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library. It was named in Fairbanks’ honor in May when the Academy kicked off its 75th Anniversary celebration.

“Mary Pickford was not only the planet’s best-known actress for more than a decade,” Academy President Frank Pierson said at the outdoor dedication ceremony, “but a director and producer as well, co-founder of United Artists (with Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, and her husband Mr. Fairbanks) and she, too, was one of the founders of the Academy.

“So tonight we’re bringing one of Hollywood’s most famous couples back together again by dedicating this building in honor of the other half of what was once Hollywood’s, and the Academy’s, royal couple.”

In addition to the Academy Film Archive and the Academy Players Directory, the 118,000 square-foot building – which was home for many years to the ABC network television studios – also ultimately will house a 300-seat screening room as well as other functions of the Academy as they require more space than currently is available in the Academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters building.

The thick-walled former studio spaces will be converted to air-conditioned storage vaults which will be maintained at strict temperature and humidity levels to maximize the life span of their contents. The first of the vaults already has been converted and filled with films and videotapes moved from the Film Archive’s former home at the Fairbanks Center in Beverly Hills.

The building was originally built for the Don Lee-Mutual Broadcasting network in 1948 and is the oldest surviving structure in Hollywood that was originally designed with television in mind.

Renovation of the building has been underway for the past year and will continue through most of 2003. It is being designed and supervised by Fran Offenhauser, whose designs for the Fairbanks Center won national awards for adaptive reuse.

The newly-renovated spaces were open last night for visits by the 350 guests attending the dedication and open house.