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Activists Try to Preserve Piece of Film History in Brooklyn

A 107-year-old smokestack in Midwood that was part of one of the first silent film studios in America is in danger of being demolished, according to The Daily News.

Beginning in 1897, the Vitagraph Company of America produced hundreds of significant silent films, eventually moving from the Lower Manhattan to Avenue M in Brooklyn in 1907. The four-story smokestack on the site served a small power plant, allowing the studio to produce upwards of eight films a week. Vitagraph played a key role in American film, back when the fledgling industry was based in New York, but in 1925, a rapidly growing Warner Brothers bought the company, moving operations to Los Angeles.

The site is currently owned by the nearby Shulamith School for Girls, but with the school's plans to move, the future of the smokestack is up in the air. In September, scaffolding went up around, stoking fears that demolition is nigh. In 2012, the Landmarks Preservation Commission ruled that the smokestack "lacked architectural merit, but neighborhood activists (including the Midwood Merchants Association) and film history buffs are still pushing for landmark designation, with plans to re-apply soon.

"What Brooklyn gave to American film history is still here," said neighbor Vince Giordano. "This is an important part of history and it shouldn't be torn down."
· Brooklyn activists hustle to save movie making Midwood smokestack [NYDN]