Alexander Film Company - CSPM

Alexander Film Company

After a tragic fire that killed eleven employees and burned down the Alexander Aircraft manufacturing facility in Englewood, Colorado in 1928, company executives moved both the film and aircraft operations to Colorado Springs. Alexander Industries thrived – employing hundreds locally. They eventually became the world’s largest producer of theater film advertising and briefly the largest manufacturer of airplanes. Located on North Nevada Avenue, the massive production facility occupied over 260 acres with a 90 acre airfield located on the east side of Nevada north of Filmore.

– From the CSPM Curator of History

The Alexander Film Company specialized in producing short advertisement clips shown in movie theaters. Founded by J. Don and Don M. Alexander, the company moved from Englewood, Colorado, to their 260-acre North Nevada Avenue plant in Colorado Springs in 1928.

By the early 1950s, the Alexander Film Company was producing up to 3,000 films annually covering 8,200 different subjects. The company also produced advertising films for 75 of the nation’s leading manufacturers that were shown in theaters. Production facilities in Colorado Springs included a stage capable of housing 32 full size motion picture sets; laboratories for black and white and color film processing; a sound recording department; and an art department capable of creating cartoon animation and other special movie effects.

The company also had its own maintenance and engineering department to repair and design new stage equipment. All company publications were printed in the on-site printing department. It employed 600 people and the annual payroll exceeded $2,500,000. The Alexander Film Company became the world’s largest producer of theater film advertising before its demise in the 1960s. The Alexander Film Company also tried producing advertising films for television but this business venture met little success.

Early on, company engineers developed their own lightweight airplane for sales trips, then began to manufacture this plane, the Alexander Eaglerock. The Alexander Aircraft Company was created in 1924. Sales of the Eaglerock boomed and the firm became the second largest builder of airplanes in the world with 33 distributors and 143 dealers throughout the nation.

When the firm moved to Colorado Springs, the Chamber of Commerce purchased 90 acres of land for an airfield for its use. The airfield operated east of Nevada Avenue and north of Fillmore Street, just south of the Cragmor neighborhood. Designers developed another aircraft called the Bullet, a low-wing monoplane with the first retractable landing gear, but the market crash of 1929 ended demand. The Alexander Aircraft Company filed for bankruptcy in 1932.

Following the death of J. Don Alexander in 1955, the Alexander Film Company was sold numerous times. As financial difficulties worsened, new owners in 1974 announced that all production would cease. While much of the production facilities still exist on North Nevada Avenue, the beautiful mission revival headquarters building was torn down for a parking lot.

Generously Submitted by Dr. John Harner, Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

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