The Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization formed in 2007 to protect and preserve the history of silent film and to celebrate the African-American experience and the role of filmmaker Richard E. Norman in the early days of the movie industry. It began when a group of passionate preservationists living and working in Jacksonville’s Old Arlington neighborhood recognized the historical significance of five wooden buildings and formed Old Arlington, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the neighborhood’s rich history.
Later, the Norman Studios preservation project proved to be a monumental undertaking and a separate 501(c)3 organization, the Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, Inc., was formed to focus efforts solely on the preservation of the Norman property and Northeast Florida’s film history.
Norman’s five-building studio complex began as part of a planned cigar factory and later became Eagle Film City. After the company filed bankruptcy, the property became the home and workplace of filmmaker and inventor Richard E. Norman. A colleague of Oscar Micheaux (their letters to one another are kept at the Indiana University Black Film Center/Archive), Norman was among the first to produce “race films,” starring black actors in positive, nonstereotypical roles. The site includes the Production and Film Processing Building (where the Norman family lived upstairs), Generator Shed, Wardrobe Cottage, Prop Storage Garage, and Set Building (currently owned by Circle of Faith Ministries).
The future of the Norman Studios property depends upon its being embraced by those who honor history and believe in the innate ability of film to entertain, educate, inspire and empower audiences. You can play supporting role in the rebirth of the Norman Studios by making a tax-deductible donation, becoming a member or volunteering for an upcoming project or event.