Barbecue Sauce Lost


Sam Stern is pictured on the right. Do you recognize the other two men from the early days at Sterns?

With Labor Day having signaled the unofficial end of barbecue season, we wanted to take a look back at much loved and much missed Stern’s Famous Barbecue.

Located at 12658 West Washington Blvd., Stern’s attracted fans from far and wide. Opened in 1922 by Isidor Stern, a Texas butcher, Stern’s eventually included a 32-room motel as part of the operation. Isidor’s nephew, Hal, was the last owner before a 1983 fire lead to the restaurant’s closure. Though the restaurant could have been rebuilt, their kitchen setup was grandfathered in, and updated fire codes meant the recipes couldn’t be replicated. Hal Stern moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, where he became a real estate broker and horseman.

Stern’s barbecue sauce is the legend that lingers, which many recall as being brown-orange instead of the usual red color, served hot with meaty bits. Many have speculated that the sauce contained XLNT chili con carne. Or maybe there was Coca-Cola? Possibly mustard?

Users of were able to contact Hal Stern in an attempt to get the recipe. The secret, according to Hal, were drippings and trimmings from the meat that were ground up and added to the sauce. He was reluctant to divulge the list of other ingredients, but also stated that, since their barbecued meat was included in the sauce, it is impossible to replicate in any case.

While Stern’s Famous Barbecue is long gone, Culver City’s barbecue tradition lives on. Outdoor Grill, celebrating its twentieth year in operation, opened just down Washington Blvd. from where Stern’s was located, Santa Maria Barbecue has been going strong for over a decade, and over the past year both Holy Cow BBQ and Maple Block Meat Co. opened on Sepulveda Blvd. And for those who wish to continue the sauce search, there is even a Facebook group started by Isidor’s great-grandson Jeff Mudrick, who longs for the days of “Hickory Smoked Meats for a Robust Treat,” along with everyone else in the know.

Print Friendly

Fall 2016 Message

Dear Members and Friends,

The year-long celebration of our city’s centennial has commenced! The Historical Society has no intention of overlooking this auspicious marker in our city’s history. Michelle Bernardin, PresidentWe can’t wait to share activities with you as we roll them out over the course of the next year! If you are interested in joining the working group and participating in any of the subcommittees for the various activities, please reach out!

The next time we blink, it will be 2017. This organization will enter its 37th year, poised with excitement for this milestone in our city’s history. As a member, you are always invited to attend a general meeting. Your opinions (and your help) are invaluable to the longevity and continued purpose of this organization.

As the temperatures start to “dip,” it’s also not too early to think about your holiday gift giving! Consider the Historical Society as your one-stop shopping destination. Visit the gift shop at the Archives or online at Also, if you shop on Amazon anytime through our dedicated link (it’s on our website – look for the Amazon logo), a percentage of your purchase comes to the Society. Shop and support!

I encourage you to follow us on the various social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), as we share plans for partnerships, events, and programs that will celebrate Culver City and its rich history. If you are not on social media, we understand. Keep us updated with your email address, so we can update you! (We will not share it with others.)
I look forward to seeing you at our October 19 General Meeting and Program.

As always, thank you for supporting your Historical Society!

Print Friendly

Notes From Your City Historian: Summer 2016

Think Fabric!  Think Conservation!

There is no doubt that Culver City has an interesting history! We receive inquiries continuously asking about people, places and things. Did you know that one of the most appreciated areas of our collection is often made of fabric? Yes, first, you probably think of the MGM costume collection for which we are caretaker—but the subject is limitless.

Sharon Shore, who just completed her term as our Costumes Chair, and continues to serve on the committee, offers a broader perspective on the reality that many of our fondest possessions as well as memories involve fabric. This could take the form of a quilt made by someone special, a piece of clothing created for an occasion, a unique pillow made from a grandpa’s ties, an apron constructed to be beautiful and utilitarian, and so much more!

We look for fabrics and patterns to suit our taste, for our draperies, bedspreads, furniture, carpets and beyond. We make time to visit museums like LACMA, the Getty, the Huntington, or Hearst Castle whose collections make us delight in artfully constructed tapestries, costumes, and historic clothing.

Sharon Shore, Director and Conservator of Caring for Textiles, a laboratory for textile conservation, maintains her private practice in Culver City.  She is an amazing resource to our Culver City Historical Society.  We benefit from her skills and mentorship. Sharon recently completed the book of research information on our costume collection. In addition, because of public interest, she and other members of her team constructed a book of the 60+ MGM Costumes. It contains photos with descriptions of each costume for public view.  It is readily available for research and general interest in the Archives.

Our textile experts Denice Renteria (left), Costume Chair and Sharon Shore (right), former Costume Chair prepare mannequins in costumes from the MGM collection.   The striped jacket was worn by Gene Kelly in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Our textile experts Denice Renteria (left), Costume Chair and Sharon Shore (right), former Costume Chair prepare mannequins in costumes from the MGM collection. The striped jacket was worn by Gene Kelly in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Watch for an opportunity in the near future to talk to Sharon in one of our “Conversations” series on special interests, like Costumes and Fabric Conservation!

Here are a few quotes to reiterate the importance of “fabric”:

“If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.” (Margaret Mead)

“Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.” (Walter Benjamin)

“When the fabric of the universe becomes unknown, it is the duty of the university to produce weavers.” (Gordon Gee)

“If I want to calm down, I’ll buy some fabric, get a pattern, shut myself in a room and stay there for days, really happy. And at the end of it, you get a bedspread or some curtains or something to wear – it’s lovely.” (Twiggy)

Many of Culver City’s historic sites are featured on our fabric “throw” available through our onsite and online shops.

Print Friendly

Happy Birthday to our City Seal

You’ve seen it all over town. On buildings, municipal vehicles, City Council Chambers, official city documents, city flags, and even on the stainless steel sculpture “Filmstrip U.S.A.” in front of the Veterans Memorial Building. But did you know that this seal has been used for 80 years?                                                                                The city seal

On August 3, 1936, by Ordinance No. 453, the City adopted the current official city seal. The ordinance required that “the imprint thereof shall hereafter be impressed upon all official documents in place of the Seal heretofore used, and an enlarged copy of said Seal shall be placed on all motor equipment owned and operated by the City of Culver City.” This ordinance also stated “Around the outer edge shall appear the words, City of Culver City, Incorporated 1917,” and in the center thereof shall appear the inscription ‘Heart of Screenland,’ which inscription shall run through the center of a Shield; in the upper left hand corner shall be depicted motion picture camera equipment indicative of the present major industry in the City of Culver City; in the lower left hand corner of said Shield, shall be depicted a representation of the Golden Bear, emblematic of the State of California; in the upper right hand corner a representation of the rising sun; and in the lower right hand corner shall be depicted a sprig of lantana, the official flower of the City of Culver City.”

That ordinance cited above, signed by Mayor Frank H. Dobson, also included a further description of the seal. It called for unequal sized sections of the shield, with the upper left and lower right being about double the size of the others. It even specified that “the motion picture camera equipment in the upper left hand quarter includes a cameraman upon a wheeled camera dolly, a klieg light turned on, and a reflector screen. The stylized sun in the upper right hand quarter is about 2/3 risen above ground level, and displays seven rays.” The colors are also defined, calling for the upper left illustration “in powder blue and white with the linework in black.” The golden sun is to be upon a “dark blue field.” The city flower, the lantana, was to be illustrated in red with green leaves.

Our seal serves as more than a civic identifier, but also as a communal unifier. That it celebrates 80 years this year is a testament to our city’s tradition and history that we hold close.

Print Friendly