How the “Soul Train” left Echo Park behind

The Eastsider last week posted a story about the opening of a new Echo Park commercial studio in an area where the former Edendale silent film studios once flourished. The new studio brought to mind the last time the entertainment industry seemed ready to roll back into Edendale courtesy of “Soul Train.” At the end 0f 1985, producer and TV host Don Cornelius announced he was moving his Hollywood-based music and dance TV show into a vacant building at 1712 Glendale Boulevard that was once used by Mack Sennett, Edendale’s most prominent filmmaker. Cornelius bought the Glendale Boulevard building, a city historic monument constructed in 1915, for about $1 million and planned to transform the empty structure into a state-of-the-art studio, according to an L.A. Times article.  “Soul Train” executive Anthony Sabatino said that Cornelius was initially reluctant to buy the building, where the catwalks used in Sennett’s day still dangled from the ceilings. The Times said:

In the past, Cornelius had expressed interest in owning his own studio because of difficulty in renting a stage large enough to accommodate the flashy “Soul Train” set and the 150 to 200 “regulars” who dance on the show, Sabatino said. But, he said, Cornelius didn’t seem too impressed with Sennett’s old haunt at first glance.

“He just kept walking around and didn’t say anything,” Sabatino recalled. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, he thinks I’m crazy.’ Then, all of a sudden, he got real excited about it and said it would be a great fixer-upper.”

The inside of the building doesn’t offer much for the inquiring eye besides a lot of empty space. Nothing is left to suggest that it was once a movie studio except the original wooden catwalks in the ceiling. Cornelius will probably spend more to refurbish the property than he did to buy it, Sabatino said.

Time proved Sabatino painfully right. Cornelius initially estimated the building’s renovation would take six months. But by the middle of 1987, about 18 months after Cornelius announce his plans, the producer had still not been able to raise money to undertake the project, forcing him to sell the property to Public Storage, according to the Times.  Instead of being reborn as a state-of-the-art studio, Edendale’s most famous movie-making factory was turned into a storage center behind a Jack-in-the-Box.


  1. That Would have been Great. It’s Sooooul train : i still wish i could have been there in the 80’s to see some vanity 6 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvDh1zHLAjU

  2. I saw a live taping of Soul Train in the mid 80s. The musical guest was the Force MD’s. It was at KTLA which I remember being near the intersection of Sunset and Van Ness.

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