First, the barn held horses. Then, film crews, a developing lab, and a gym where actors could bulk up and trim down. Now, it’s a museum tracing the history of the silver screen.
In 1914, before Hollywood had a large footprint of permanent studios, filmmakers shot their pictures by repurposing other buildings as sets. It soon became the center of operations for the Jesse L. Lasky Company, which was filming a motion-picture version of the play The Squaw Man.
Cecil B. DeMille knew that this barn would make a great addition to the film, the first feature-length movie to be produced in Hollywood. At that point, the barn sat a number of blocks away, near Sunset and Vine. The collaborators continued to operate there as the business grew, eventually swelling into the first home of Paramount Pictures.
As operations boomed, the business outgrew its wood-frame confines. But DeMille and company didn’t leave the barn behind. As they moved around Hollywood, and expanded their real estate holdings, they brought the barn with them. By 1926, it had been hauled to a back lot on Melrose Avenue, where Paramount would be building new studios. In the late ’70s, it was firmly out of commission, and was loaded up onto a truck and hauled to a parking lot.
In 1985, it finally found a permanent home, near the Hollywood Bowl. Today, it’s a museum, full of archival photos, menus, props, and even a recreation of DeMille’s office, complete with typewriter, film canisters, movie posters, and booze.
Also collected are photos and postcards showing the streets and buildings of Tinseltown during its heyday. Once in a while, silent films are shown, and special events called “Evenings at the Barn” feature speakers and screenings, both of which are open to the public.
Know Before You Go
The museum is generally open Saturday and Sunday, from noon until 4 p.m., but sometimes closes if the Hollywood Bowl has an event. (They share a parking lot.) Call (323) 874-4005 in advance to double-check the hours.