by Julie Lugo Cerra, City Historian
When the Culver City Historical Society was incorporated in 1980, under founding president Cathy Zermeno, the Society began a program of marking historic sites, the first one being the site of the 1928 City Hall. To qualify, sites must be at least 50 years old with historic significance.
Our first marking, the site of the 1928 City Hall, took place in 1981, ten years prior to the adoption of our city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance. Charles Lugo was the first Historic Sites Chair. The markers are traditionally bronze plaques, some mounted in concrete, some (more…)
This year’s theme is SEE! SAVE! CELEBRATE!
What does this mean to Culver City?
At the May 14, 2013 Culver City Cultural Affairs Commission meeting, City Historian Julie Lugo Cerra will offer an illustrative PowerPoint presentation focusing on Culver City’s distinctive historic structures and local efforts in historic preservation. Issues like “Does Historic Preservation Pay?” and “How can we achieve our goals in these difficult economic times?” will offer opportunity for discussion.
The meeting commences at 7:00 p.m. in the Mike Balkman Council Chambers and can be viewed on CulverCity.org or local access television.
Julie will also be presenting the presentation the day before at the City Council meeting. Please come if you can.
For more information, please call the Society at (310) 253-6941 or e-mail us.
The Culver City Historical Society is pleased to announce that John Jackson, the owner and manager of the Culver Ice Arena since 1982, will be the featured speaker at the Society’s general meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building’s Multi-Purpose Room, 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City, 90230.
In addition to discussing how the ice arena was created and how hockey and figure skating training developed there, Jackson will share stories about Wayne Gretsky, Scott Hamilton, Dorothy Hamill, Michelle Kwan, and the many local skaters who learned or honed their skills at the facility.
Jackson (pictured, right) is a former Marine Captain and a former football coach at USC, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and the University of Illinois. He is also the owner/promoter of Forum Boxing. In addition, he served as assistant to Jerry Buss, the former owner of the Lakers Basketball team and the Kings Hockey team.
Several former local Olympians and professional skating stars drawn from the teaching staff at the Ice Arena will be on hand and will share their early experiences as skaters in Culver City, including Cathy Machado (first U.S. Latina Olympian, Olympic medalist, World Professional Ice Skating Champion, U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame); Josselyn Baumgartner (Double National Medalist in figure skating); and Crystalrose Guerra (five-time National Showcase Champion).
See videos of Machado (pictured, left) and Guerra below.
There will be a brief discussion of upcoming programs and projects, as well as updates on the activities and exhibits in the Archives & Resource Center (ARC), and the Center will be opened following the meeting.
All members of the Culver City Historical Society and the public are welcome to enjoy this free program and students are encouraged to attend. The entrance to the Multi-Purpose Room is through the back of the building near the parking lot, as well as through the Archive & Resource Center space.
For more information, please call the Society at (310) 253-6941 or e-mail us.
by Kevin Triplett
Author’s note: For the past six months, the author spent his workweek in the west Los Angeles suburb of Culver City, which led him to research the rich racing history of the community.
Certain areas of the country have always been automobile racing “hot spots,” such as the pre-war “Gasoline Alley” in Paterson, New Jersey and Speedway, Indiana. Southern California has always been associated with hot rods and auto racing, but this article focuses on one small community – Culver City, which in its 96-year history, hosted two race tracks, numerous racing-related businesses, and is the hometown of an infamous Indy Car driver. The hope was to visit the historic sites, although as author Judith Freeman has pointed out that the Los Angeles area is an area “of architectural disposability…with buildings torn down, replaced by something else.”
In the late 1920s Culver City became the home of its first of two race tracks after the demise of the Beverly Hills board track, built in 1919. Largely funded by Cliff Durant, (more…)
A “Meet and Greet” with author Brian Taves, film archivist with the Library of Congress since 1990, will be hosted by the Culver City Historical Society on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. in the Archives and Resource Center (ARC).
Taves’ book, Thomas Ince: Hollywood’s Independent Pioneer, the first ever written about Ince’s life, describes how he revolutionized the motion picture industry through developing the role of the producer. Taves will show a DVD of a tour of the former Thomas Ince Studios (now Culver Studios), will describe the writing of this work, and will sign books (which are available in book stores) for those who (more…)
The Culver City Historical Society presented “Meet Me in Culver City,” a celebration to honor Culver City’s 95th Anniversary, on Sunday, September 23, 2012, at the historic Culver Hotel.
Margaret O’Brien, Oscar-winning icon from MGM, served as Honorary Chair of the event and was honored with a commendation from the Culver City Council.
Miss O’Brien was the biggest child star throughout the 1940s and a number one box office attraction. Her unforgettable performance as Tootie Smith in Meet Me in St. Louis (MGM, 1944) with Judy Garland as her co-star, earned her an Academy Award and the position of the highest paid entertainer in the nation.
The Culver City Historical Society (CCHS) will feature Jim Lamm, president of the Ballona Creek Renaissance (BCR) at its general meeting on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building’s Multi-Purpose Room, located at 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City, 90230.
Lamm will narrate a virtual tour of the creek in his presentation, “Connecting Creek and Community, Ballona Creek and its Watershed — Past, Present and Future,” a multifaceted story about people, places, and processes (more…)
The Culver City Historical Society will present “Meet Me In Culver City,” a celebration to honor Culver City’s 95th anniversary, on Sunday, September 23, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Historic Culver Hotel, 9400 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, 90232.
Margaret O’Brien, legendary Oscar-winning icon from MGM, is serving as Honorary Chair of the event and will be honored with a commendation from the Culver City (more…)
The Culver City Historical Society will host noted anthropologist and archeologist Dr. Charles Rozaire at a special meeting on Saturday, August 18, 2012, in the society’s Archive and Resource Center (ARC) from 1-3 p.m.
Dr. Rozaire grew up in Culver City, attended Culver City Grammar School, and received his BA, MA and PhD at UCLA. He will share his perspective on Native Americans and the early history of the (more…)
Be a part of Culver City history and join us this Tuesday, April 3, 2012 for a very special evening as City Tavern celebrates the 1st of many anniversary parties to come while benefitting the Culver City Historical Society!
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. – by invitation
passed appetizers & cocktails hosted by City Tavern
7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. – open to public
full dinenr, drinks, music & mingling
10:00 p.m. to close – under 10 after 10 party
$9 craft cocktails after 10:00 p.m. with music by DJ Anthony
Click here to RSVP for the private invite-only party! – 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Call (310) 838-9739 to make a dinner reservation – 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
The Culver City Historical Society (CCHS) will designate the Veterans Memorial Building as Historic Site #13 at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 10, 2011.
The building, located at Culver Boulevard and Overland Avenue, (4117 Overland Avenue) one of the most often-used structures in the city, has had a vibrant history, which is noted on the bronze plaque that will be unveiled that morning in the front of the building and reads as follows:
Historic Site No. 13:
Veterans Memorial Building (VMB)
Culver City purchased a major portion of this land, known as Exposition Park, in 1938. It was officially designated as Veterans Memorial Park on August 8, 1949. Bond financing of $550,000 guaranteed the construction of the Veterans Memorial Building on the corner. The original plans promised a “recreational building with a stage, restaurant, film museum, playroom, and a large gymnasium.” The “tourist tower” was designed to view “back lot” movie sets at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios across the street. The cornerstone was laid on April 15, 1950. The VMB was dedicated on March 9, 1951, with Goodwin Knight, Lt. Governor at the time, in attendance. The Gold Star Mothers were guests of honor. This structure, designed to serve the entire community, once included a “Tower Restaurant.” The entry proudly exhibits a growing number of markers, placed to honor and remember veterans who served our country, and who fought for our freedom in many wars.
The Culver City Police Department’s (CCPD) Public Information Officer, Lieutenant Ronald Iizuka is the featured speaker at the Culver City Historical Society’s general meeting on Wednesday, October 19, 2011, at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building’s Multipurpose Room, 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City, 90230.
In 1925, Dr. Foster Hull, the city’s second health officer (after Dr. W.S. Mortensen), built Culver City’s first hospital. The Hull Building, where it was located, still stands at 9543 Culver Boulevard, where it meets Watseka Avenue in downtown Culver City.
Louis Freeman, the owner of nearby Freeman’s Grocery Store bought the Hull Building in the 1930s, and today it is home to Akasha Restaurant.
The Hull Building was designated ‘Historic Site No. 2’ by the Culver City Historical Society in 1991.
Made in Culver City, a free film program presented by the City of Culver City, will feature Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring Spencer Tracy on September 17, 2011 at 7:30pm in Culver City’s City Hall Courtyard.
Culver City City Hall is located at 9770 Culver Boulevard and parking and dining are available in Downtown Culver City.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was directed by Victor Fleming and also stars Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. The film was based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of a 19th century scientist’s investigation into the nature of good and evil. This 1941 film version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was set in London but filmed entirely in Culver City at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the film’s release and the 94th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Culver City. Special permission for the screening has been provided by Warner Bros. Classics. (more…)
The Culver City Historical Society (CCHS) will present a celebration of the city’s 94-year history that promises to be a real doozy at the newly-renovated Historic Culver Hotel at 9400 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, on Sunday, September 18, from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Festivities will include music and dancing to the music of “Doozy,” a band specializing in “prohibition pop, depression era tunes, and retro-originals” every Thursday evening at the Culver Hotel; bountiful arrays of appetizers and desserts; a raffle and auction; silent movies; historic Culver City cocktails at a no host bar, and many more surprises.
This weekend, August 26, 27, & 28, come out and celebrate Culver City’s annual Fiesta La Ballona. Browse through the booths, taste the food, hang out in the beer garden, listen to the bands, watch the presentations, go on the carnival rides, and have some fun!
Also come by and check out the Archives & Resource Center (ARC), which will be open both Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m.
“Fiesta La Ballona Days” began in 1951 as a week-long celebration of the region’s early settlers. People went to events — and even to work — dressed up as Native American Indians, rancheros, señoritas, cowboys, and cowgirls. The early fiestas evoked pride among the descendants of the “first families” and offered the entire community a playful opportunity to connect with its history.
Suggested reading: Early Fiestas: Recollections by Julie Lugo Cerra
Fiesta information via Fiesta La Ballona
Culver City’s City Hall – located at 9770 Culver Boulevard – was dedicated in 1928.
The building was demolished in the early 1990s to make way for the new Civic Center, and the current façade [see photo after the jump] is a reconstruction of the 1928 original. The facade opens onto Heritage Park, which occupies the old City Hall footprint.
Culver City City Hall was designated Historic Site No. 1 by the Culver City Historical Society in 1991.
The Annual Costume Society of America Symposium
I have just returned from rainstorms in Boston where I was attending the annual Costume Society of America Symposium. I presented a lecture on Ganna Walska, a well-known Polish opera singer and socialite, whose designer of choice was the legendary Erté – famous for his Art Deco sinewy figures and fantastical ornaments.
by Julie Lugo Cerra
El Marino Students Tour the Past to See the Future
Our children are our future – and how important it is to offer them a window into the past, to help them make grounded future-oriented decisions.
by Stu Freeman
First, let me thank those of you who responded so enthusiastically to my article in our last newsletter.
As you may recall, I requested that if you were doing some “spring cleaning” and happened to find anything that relates to Culver City history, to please consider donating it to the CCHS Archives & Resource Center (ARC).
A Special Guest Visits the ARC: Deborah Landis
I wanted to let you know about some very interesting visitors we had the pleasure of hosting at the ARC at the end of last year.
Deborah Nadoolman Landis, and her assistant, Natasha Rubin, came to look at some of our MGM costumes. Why? Well, Deborah is the Senior Guest Curator of an exhibition at the prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum in London on film costumes in 2012. Entitled “Style and Seduction: The Art of Hollywood Costume Design,” the exhibit is scheduled to open October 20th, 2012, followed by an international tour. There will also be a catalogue. (more…)
by Julie Lugo Cerra
Local History Becoming very Popular with All Ages!
There seems to be a lot of interest in local history, which is very encouraging! New businesses even call to learn about the story of their site (often some fun surprises there!)
Children are especially great fun on tours. We are scheduled to work with students from El Marino Language School in 2011 on May 31 and June 3. (more…)
The Culver City Historical Society’s Spring General Membership Meeting will be held this Wednesday, April 20th at 7:00 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Veterans Memorial Building, 4117 Overland Avenue. Please park and enter from the rear of the building.
Co-authors, Julie Lugo Cerra and Marc Wanamaker will present a Power Point program on their most recent book collaboration, Movie Studios of Culver City, published by Arcadia Publishing in their “Images of America” series. The book includes hundreds of images and descriptions of the motion picture and television studios from 1913, when Harry Culver founded the city and attracted studios to locate there – from the early studios of Thomas Ince and Hal Roach through the huge facilities of MGM, Lorimar, Columbia, DeMille, RKO, Pathe, Desilu and Sony. (more…)
by Stu Freeman
Have you recently cleaned out a closet, an attic or a garage?
Has any of your family or friends?
Did you find something that relates to the history of Culver City and/or your family’s history to the city?
- Ticket stubs from the Culver or Meralta theatres
- Order forms from the Helms Bakery
- Anything from the MGM, Hal Roach or any other local studios
- Pictures of local businesses that aren’t here any more
- Photos of prominent citizens or Culver school teachers
PLEASE! Don’t throw them away!
I am calling on all Culver City-ites, current and past, to do some personal searching through your heritage — because the CC Historical Society can possibly provide a home for these items in our ever-enriching Archives (ARC). Your donations will help to ensure that your children and grandchildren will always have a place to view the items that their family has donated in their family name.
There is but one caveat and that is, due to the current limitations of space at the Archives, we have a process whereby the Board must approve of any donations before we can accept them. You may find some unexpected treasures!
It should prove to be fun for everyone!