NOTE: This post is from about a year ago but Bruce added some new info and photo below (see UPDATE below)
OK, this was actually reported a while ago, but I only recently read of plans by Atlas Film Corporation to build a studio in Newton — in Cold Spring Park, no less.
The company acquired rights to a significant part of Cold Spring Park — encompassing the current dog park, lower fields, and what’s now a few blocks of nearby homes — for a whopping $26,166. The plans were implemented in 1916-17. Over the next several years, Atlas made silent films, including The Place of the Honeymoons (vote for it on IMDB). I understand that the studio filmed silent westerns, too, right here in Cold Spring Park. One of the studio’s producers, Frank Howard, was the first person to open a movie theater in Boston. Unfortunately, although this story is true, it seems that no copies of the films made by Atlas can be found today.
UPDATE: An alert reader responds with a photo! Here is a photo of Helen (Sheehan) King standing in front of the Atlas Film Corp. studio building. It was taken around 1922-23, when she was about 16. Her daughter, Sally (King) McClellan, sent it to me after discovering this blog post during her family history research. In her comment below, Sally wrote, “My mother and aunt were extras in the movies, as was a neighborhood pal and later Mayor of Newton, Howard Whitemore.” Her comment includes many other historic details. From 1900 to 1996, five generations of Sally’s family lived at 5 Selden Street (on the 2013 map above, it’s the western-most blue house bordering the south side of the aqueduct).