Historic site #1: Culver City City Hall

Photo Courtesy CCHS Collection - Culver City Historical SocietyCulver City City Hall (9770 Culver Boulevard)

The original building was dedicated in 1928 but was demolished in the early 1990s to make way for the new Civic Center. The current façade 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.

For more information about City Hall or Culver City’s rich history, check out Images of America: Culver City by city historian Julie Lugo Cerra.

Photo by Justin Scupine, courtesy of the Culver City Times - Culver City Historical Society
Photo by Justin Scupine, courtesy of the Culver City Times.

 

Google Street View | Map of Culver City Historic Sites

Historic Site #13 – Veterans Memorial Building

Veterans Memorial Building in the 1950s when the Tower Restaurant was in operation - CulverCityHistoricalSociety.orgThe Culver City Historical Society (CCHS) designated the Veterans Memorial Building as Historic Site #13 at 10am 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 is displayed 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.

Native Americans traversed this land before it was claimed as a portion of Rancho La Ballona in 1819. The Spanish Period yielded to Mexican control, followed by California Statehood in 1850. This site was part of the original land acquired to incorporate as Culver City in 1917.

The Culver City Historical Society, Fall 2011


The VMB was renovated in 1980. At that time, a number of changes occurred, including the rounding of the Garden Room (formerly the Tower Restaurant) wall for a mural and installation of glass to view the adjacent patio. Most notable from the outside was the placement of a sculpture on the Overland/Culver corner, a stainless steel work by artist Natalie Krol, “Filmstrip USA” dedicated in 1981. Rooms within have been renamed to honor our sister cities.

City dignitaries, city staff, Culver City residents, Historical Society members, Veterans, students and the public were invited to attend the ceremony.

CCHS Works Toward Long-term Historical Preservation

For over thirty years, the Culver City Historical Society has focused on safeguarding the unique heritage of our city through designation of specific Historic Sites as well as collecting, maintaining and displaying our wonderful trove of memorabilia and historic documents.

The Society has long been an advocate for preservation programs and measures to ensure that future generations can continue to learn about and appreciate Culver City’s special history. It now behooves us to ask, “Is Historic Preservation in Culver City on stall?”

The last discussion at the City Council, which had been put off for nearly two years, then another month, is still hanging in the balance. There seems to be concern about doing a new survey, although the Council’s direction to apply for Certified Local Government Status and enable the Mills Act Funding in 1991 has not yet been implemented.

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Historic Site 12: Culver City’s First Park

by Julie Lugo Cerra

Mrs. Lois Carlson Bridges and CC Mayor Christopher Armenta / Photos by Fred YglesiasThe unveiling of the marker at our first park in Culver City was supported by the attendance of more than 100 locals, including local officials, members, neighbors and city staff.

Mrs. Lois Carlson Bridges, the widow of Dr. Paul Carlson, made the trip from her home in the San Diego area, and gave the invocation, which certainly enhanced the ceremony. She was accompanied by David and Polly Brown. David, a 1961 Culver High graduate, had suggested the marking of the park some time ago, so people would know about the man for whom it was renamed in 1964.

Dr. Paul Carlson on the cover of Time magazine (1964)Since the Society has traditionally told the story of each site from early times, we wanted to make sure we had as much information as possible. The research, mostly done within our ranks, was supplemented by Lois and David as well.

Marking historic sites was one of our Society’s first programs. This makes an even dozen! How does it happen? Our bylaws read:

Historic Sites Committee [is] “responsible for establishing the historic validity of sites proposed for marking for designating historic sites, and for arranging historical tours.”

Each president appoints a Historic Sites Chair, which is confirmed by a vote of the membership. Members are then asked and volunteer to serve. The president serves in an ad hoc capacity.

The Process:

  • Criteria? Site is 50+ years old, with historic significance.
  • Site is nominated.
  • Research is completed.
  • Board approves nomination.
  • Property owner gives permission. (The City Manager and Director of Parks and Recreation were our contacts for Historic Site #12.)
  • Wording is composed for the bronze plaque.
  • Board approves final wording and unveiling date in concert with property owner.
  • Budget is set for marker, invitations, postage, programs and other amenities.
  • Order is submitted, with deposit, to the monument company, with information on the placement which affects the hardware needs. Sign-off returned draft/ bronze is cast.
  • Final payment upon possession of the marker.

Traditionally, the Culver City Historical Society’s practice has been to place very informative plaques intended to educate those who view them. We tell more of a story, and we show the name of the site, site number, give the history of the site, and end with the Society’s name and date, or season and year. Cost is a function of the size and number of letters.

Mike Machado, a descendant of Agustin Machado and part of the team that installed the marker.The marking is a festive public gathering, attended by locals and their elected officials. The marker is covered after installation generally with plastic or paper until the day of the unveiling.

On the day of the unveiling, the marker is covered in cloth. In the early days, the cover was a handmade California state flag loaned to us by our Madrina, Clarita Marquez Young. Later, depending on the site, plain fabric or in the case of Camp Latham, bunting was used.

Depending on the site, the owner may host a reception, or in the case of the recent park marking, it was an opportunity for everyone to bring a picnic.

Who was involved in the marking of HS #12? Historic Sites Committee: Joy Jacobs, Marion Feingold, Stu Freeman, Bill La Pointe, Pam Robinson and myself. Pre- and post-publicity (Joy Jacobs) were integral to the success. Newsletter Chair/Editor, Judy Stangler, worked on newsletter coverage and the invitations, and Hope Parrish broadened the research from her notes in early newspapers. For this event, we wanted to invite the neighbors, so Joy Jacobs, Fred Yglesias and Stu Freeman hand-dropped invitations around the park.

Kemp Monument Company is now in its second generation of ordering our plaques from the foundry. City Departments involved: City Clerk’s office, during the research stage; Parks and Recreation and Public Works were great to work with on the installation. Public Works made the monument and installed the marker in the concrete, and Parks and Rec. took care of the PA, flags, podium, reserving the park and other amenities.

Our official photographer, Fred Yglesias, with help from CCHS members like Kevin Lachoff, made sure we had a photo record of the event so Museum Chair Winston Gieseke could provide photos for post publicity.

Special thanks to CC Mayor Christopher Armenta, Councilmembers Jeff Cooper, Scott Malsin and Andy Weissman, who attended along with city commissioners and Pam Robinson and Bill and Kaye LaPointe.

(L-R) Council members Jeff Cooper, Andy Weissman, Mayor Christopher Armenta & Scott Malsin

(L-R) Polly & David Brown, Lois Carlson Bridges and Julie Lugo Cerra

A great turnout of CCHS members, CC Council members, park neighbors and the CC community

1993: President Bill Clinton visited CC's "First Park" with Mayor Mike Balkman

Don’t miss the special exhibit at the ARC of the research and story of Historic Site #12 – the “First Park in Culver City.”