'The Enchanted Window of Idlewild'

Historical resort the site of early film in 1917

IDLEWILD — Old newspapers can be one of the best places to find and discover historical information, with events and happenings being recorded as they unfold.

Idlewild, which was established as a beautiful first-rate resort for Blacks in 1915, was already capturing attention from all over in 1917, and was a site and subject of a moving picture when film was still young.

Whether it was completed or still exists, an article relayed from the Lake County Star in the Osceola County Herald from June 7, 1917, tells about a moving picture drama being filmed in Idlewild, called, "The Enchanted Window of Idlewild."

"Idlewild, the beautiful resort lake 4 miles east of Baldwin, will be the scene of a moving picture drama next week when a Chicago company arrives to make the scenes for 'The Enchanted Window of Idlewild,'" the article stated.

The article relayed how an African American movie company, casting African Americans, would stage the play. 

"A scenario written around the resort by one of the visitors will be the framework and impart the actions, but the beautiful natural setting will be one of the principal features to be sought. Idlewild abounds in pretty coves, lily-strewn waters and lofty pines and little imagination is needed to see a rare picture from the "Enchanted Window," the article continued.

The article told how Idlewild was the largest resort for Black people in America.

"There are thousands of acres in the tract and the small lakes are numberless. Hundreds of cottages are being built, and Frank Stowe has a contract to construct many for the people," the article continued.

There is still a question if the film still exists, or if it was lost to time. Unfortunately, the name of the company wasn't written in the article. It could have possibly been filmed by Foster Photoplay Company, which was founded in 1910 in Chicago by Bill Foster, and which is widely considered to be the first film production company established by an African American featuring all African American casts.

Although not listed online in the Foster Photoplay Company filmography, the film may not have been completed or may have been lost.

Bruce Micinski, president of the Lake County Historical Society since 1983, told the Star he was unaware of the "The Enchanted Window of Idlewild."

If the film still exists somewhere, it would be a treasure trove of early images and pictures of Idlewild, when the town was still very young but already gaining great notoriety.