Notes from Your City Historian
by Julie Lugo Cerra
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.
Two days toward the end of the school year, we “shared” busloads of students from El Marino School with CCPD for four tours. We were able to start all four tours in the Mike Balkman Council Chambers, which really helps set the tone.
Alice Horiba, teacher extraordinaire, has worked out an historic scavenger hunt from there, through our downtown. This exercise is a wonderful example of painless education, and nurturing good citizenship early (see photo below). Special thanks to City Manager John Nachbar and staff, Shelly Wolfberg and Jeff Wolf. CCHS member Catherine Yanda also joined in.
Historic Site #13 Announcement Soon
Your Historic Sites Committee (Stu Freeman, Joy Jacobs, Tami Eskridge, Jeanne Conklin & Julie Lugo Cerra) met in June and will bring a recommendation to the Board at the end of the month. We should have an Historic Site #13 announcement soon. We are working on a variety of levels, to broaden the scope of our preservation efforts in support of our city.
Hull Family Visits Historic Building
Foster Hull, the son of Nebraska-born (1897) Dr. Foster Hull, visited our city recently and CCHS President Stu Freeman (owner of the Hull Building) arranged for a lunch at its current occupant, the Akasha Restaurant, where Foster felt right at home!
Although the Society marked the Hull Building as Historic Site #2 – Culver City’s first hospital – we knew very little about the physician/builder. Dr. Hull was the man responsible for our first hospital.
We learned that Dr. Foster Hull received his medical degree from U.S.C. and subsequently served as a captain in the U. S. Army during World War I. He rode through France as a medical officer during his service, after which he moved to Culver City in 1919. He lived near the hospital he built in the 1920s.
Foster shared that his father’s practice included caring for locals, “some of whom paid him in lima beans or goats,” to silent film legends such as Tom and Harry Brown and the family of Myrna Loy.
Dr. Hull married Marion Dunlop in 1928. Their son Foster was born in 1930 – in Culver City, of course! The Hulls moved to Hollywood in the 1930s, having lost the Hull Building during the Depression. (This was the beginning of Freeman family ownership). They later moved to Laurel Canyon.
Foster also shared that his father invented an antiseptic seaweed product called “Pyogon,” used in China in the 1930s for dental purposes. Dr. Hull passed away in 1948.
Dr. Hull had two brothers and a sister. His brothers settled in the San Fernando Valley, raised horses, and had a lumber business on Melrose in Hollywood.
When asked about his father, Foster’s memories include his father’s love of music and singing. He had fond memories of horseback riding with his him, too. In fact, when Foster moved to Maui in 1972, he established stables called the “Rainbow Ranch.”
CCHS Historic Site #2
The Hull Building, which we know as “Akasha” Restaurant today, was constructed as the first hospital in Culver City. Dr. Foster Hull, a physician/surgeon who served the city as its second health officer, built the structure in 1925. The Culver City Historical Society marked it as Historic Site #2 in the early 1980s. When Historic Preservation was added to the municipal code in 1991, the building earned city “Landmark” status.
The wedge-shaped Neo-classical-style building was purchased by Louis Freeman during the Great Depression. The tan and rose-colored brick structure has remained in the ownership of the Freeman family, for three generations.
Over the years, the first floor housed many businesses, including Sunset Drugs (with a soda fountain), Al Simon’s Sada’s Flowers (1930s), Ed Tinger’s Culver City Flowers(1940s), Kamin’s Shoes, and in 1978, the Bank of Orange County, which gutted the building and brought it up to earthquake standards.
More recently, it was reconfigured to become a restaurant, (Riccardo’s, Bella Pasta, San Gennaro, and now Akasha). The upstairs housed offices and a boarding house at one time.