TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced Monday that Norman Film Studios in Jacksonville has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Founded in 1916 as Eagle Film City, the studio was later known as the Richard E. Norman Film Manufacturing Company from 1922-1928, when its owner Richard Norman was among the first filmmakers to break the racial barrier in the motion picture industry.
The Norman Studios “race films” were intended for African-American audiences, and starred black actors in positive, professional film roles such as lawyers, bankers, pilots and doctors. Some of the more notable films produced by Richard Norman include "Regeneration," "The Flying Ace," and "The Bull-Dogger."
The film industry in the United States later transitioned from multiple studios in New York, Chicago and Jacksonville to a centralized industry based in Hollywood. However, Jacksonville was an early competitor for the center of the film industry, boasting more than 30 movie studios in 1916.
The city of Jacksonville owns the property, and since 2002 has worked to partially restore Norman Studios through three historic preservation grants from the Florida Division of Historical Resources, as well as matching funds from the city. The nonprofit organization, Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, Inc. is working to complete the restoration and reopen the historic complex to the public as a film and history learning center and tourist destination.
“I am pleased to announce the designation of the Norman Film Studios as a National Historic Landmark,” Detzner said. “This historic film studio property is the last remaining complex of buildings dating to a time when Jacksonville was a leader in the silent film industry. It is the only preserved film studio in the nation that once specialized in silent films starring African-Americans.”
For more information, visit NormanStudios.org.