October 17 General Meeting and Program

Early Culver City Movie Locations Then and Now

Hal E. Roach Studios, 1921 (Culver City Historical Society)

From the early days of filmmaking, Culver City was at the epicenter. We can spot Culver City locations in recent movies and TV shows with ease. But it takes a lot more time and effort to identify locations from silent films and early talkies.

Chris Bungo was born and raised in New Jersey, but he can spot Culver City and other Los Angeles locations from 1920s and 30s movies like a native. He then photographs what is there now, and dissolves in and out from the past to the present in his popular Then and Now videos on YouTube. He will present some of these videos, with a focus on Culver City locations, at our program.

Hal Roach expert Richard Bann, co-author of Our Gang: The Life and Times of the Little Rascals and contributor to the book Laurel & Hardy and the home video release Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection, will also present a brief history of Culver City’s Roach Studios, which produced many comedy shorts on the streets of The Heart of Screenland.

The public is invited to this free program. The entrance to the ARC is from the back parking lot.

July 18 General Meeting and Program

The History of Los Angeles Agriculture, Past and Present

July General Meeting Features Authors of Book on Southern California Farming History

In today’s concrete and asphalt-lined megalopolis, it’s sometimes hard to remember that Los Angeles was once the agricultural center of North America up until the 1950s, with Culver City having played a large part.

On Wednesday, July 18, Rachel Surls and Judith Gerber, co-authors of From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles, will give an illustrated look back at our farming heritage and explore such history as the Tongva people who lived along Ballona Creek, the missionaries that brought European agricultural knowledge to the area, the rancho owners that cultivated West Los Angeles and raised cattle, and the beginnings of California’s citrus and winemaking empire.

We’ll also look at “fantastic farm” tourists attractions like Culver City’s own Monkey Farm, the malathion spraying of the 1980s that began in Culver City, and efforts to bring back urban farming amidst the current locavore and “eat local” movement.

Historical Society members and the general public are invited to enjoy this free program on July 18 at 7 P.M. in the Multipurpose Room at Veterans Memorial Building, located at 4117 Overland Avenue. The entrance to both the ARC and Multipurpose Room is through the back of the building and open to the public.

The Historical Society Archives & Resource Center (ARC) will be open for you to come and see our latest exhibits.

 

About Rachel Surls: Rachel Surls is the Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County. Cooperative Extension is part of the UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. As Sustainable Food Systems Advisor, she conducts research and extends information on a variety of food systems topics, including community and school gardens and urban agriculture. Rachel earned her BS in agronomy at Virginia Tech, her MS in Agricultural Sciences at Cal Poly, Pomona, and a Ph.D. in Education from Claremont Graduate University.

About Judith Gerber: A second-generation Angeleno, Judith Gerber is a farm and garden authority who has written about sustainable and urban farming, local foods, and organic gardening for more than twenty years. She is also the author of Farming in Torrance and the South Bay.

April 18 General Meeting and Program

Catch the Olympic Spirit!

April General Meeting to Highlight 1932, 1984, and 2028 Olympics with LA84 Foundation

Culver City has played a part in the past Los Angeles Olympic Games, and we look forward to being involved in 2028 when the world’s athletes return to the region. During our Wednesday, April 18 (7 P.M.) General Meeting and Program we’ll look back, as well as forward, with the help of a representative from LA84 Foundation, and any past and future Olympians that want to share their memories and aspirations.

1932 saw the construction of the first Olympic Athletes Village in nearby Baldwin Hills. Along with the athletes came appetites. Thus began the Great Olympic Bread War, which involved Helms Bakeries and a lawsuit that took nearly 20 years to resolve. Local luminaries Douglas Fairbanks and his wife Mary Pickford, who both have Culver City streets named after them, were instrumental in publicizing the 1932 games.

1984 was famously a budget conscious affair, with the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee using a former helicopter assembly plant in Culver City as its headquarters. 1984 also was the first time a women’s Olympic marathon was held, with both the men’s and women’s marathon routes passing through Culver City on their way to the finish line.

How will Culver City play a part in 2028? Are future Olympians from Culver City training right now on our streets and in our parks?

Our featured speaker will be Wayne Wilson, who has served for three decades as Vice President, Education Services, for LA84 Foundation. Mr. Wilson holds a doctorate in sports studies from the University of Massachusetts, writes and speaks frequently about the Olympic Movement, and previously served on the Research Council of the Olympic Studies Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Any local Olympians or Olympic volunteers who wish to take part in the evening’s Q&A are more than welcome to attend.

Historical Society members and the general public are invited to enjoy this free program on Wednesday, April 18 at 7 P.M. in the Multipurpose Room at Veterans Memorial Building, located at 4117 Overland Avenue. The entrance to both the ARC and Multipurpose Room is through the back of the building and open to the public.

The Historical Society Archives & Resource Center (ARC) will be open for you to come and see our latest exhibits.

About the LA84 Foundation: For over 30 years, the LA84 Foundation has experienced first-hand the power of sport to change lives. The foundation’s funding, focus, and advocacy has positively impacted more than 3 million under-served and under-resourced youth, supported over 2,200 organizations and trained 80,000 coaches. With a third Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles coming in 2028, the LA84 Foundation is ready to take their work to even greater heights as they begin to build a new legacy for the next generation.

A Brief History of Culver City’s Major Houses of Worship

Culver City’s first house of worship, St. Augustine Church began when the Figueroa family donated land in 1883 in what was to become Culver City, when Washington Blvd. was just a dirt road. In 1887 a modest wood framed church that sat 200 was built, and in 1922 it was expanded to seat 500. On Christmas Morning 1957 the current church opened, which seats 1,070.

 


St. Augustine Church, c.1887 (donated to the Society by Christina Machado-Essex)

Before Temple Akiba was built, Culver City’s Jewish congregants held high holy days in Veterans Memorial Auditorium. The initial sanctuary on Sepulveda Blvd. was dedicated in1955, and its latest renovation, with a new entryway courtyard and a sanctuary including windows for the first time, was completed in 2015.

Culver-Palms United Methodist Church has enjoyed a prominent place on Sepulveda Blvd. next to the YMCA, First Southern Baptist Church is located in Culver City’s earliest neighborhood (just a couple of blocks from City Hall) and Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church on Overland is just a few blocks from Culver City High School. Early Grace Evangelical congregants met at the Scout Hut on Culver Blvd. before its members built the original church (now the Fireside Room) by hand, including pews and pulpit, in 1948. The main church, also built by church members including the wrought-iron, was dedicated in 1952 and seats 220.

Recent history has not been kind to Culver City Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Washington, which has been hit by cars four times, and Culver Community Church on Washington and Sawtelle has also had to deal with vehicle damage. Culver City Presbyterian Church, built circa 1950 and able to accommodate 224 with another 50 in the loft, has thrived despite the 405 Freeway having been built just a block away.

Culver City’s King Fahad Mosque, with its 2,000 worshiper capacity, marble façade, Turkish hand-made tiles, and 72-foot-high minaret, opened in July 1998. The mosque demonstrates Culver City’s diversity, both in terms of demographics and religious tolerance. When a group gathered in 2006 to protest at the mosque over unfounded connections to the 9/11 attacks, clergy from other faiths stood arm-in-arm to protect the King Fahad.

“Now that’s what I call people of the faith,” Usman Madha, Director of Administration and Public Relations, told Annenberg Digital News in 2011. “When you believe in God, you have mercy and love. It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Christian, Jewish, or Muslim.”

Our Equine Past

Amidst today’s hustle, bustle, and gridlock, it is nice to think back to a time before cars, when there were clopping hooves instead of purring engines, and the only horns were for music, or a bugle’s call.

Harry H. Culver at the Pacific Military Academy he founded in 1922

 

Reveille would have been the morning clarion call at Camp Latham, the Civil War encampment near Overland and Jefferson where 2,000 soldiers and probably horses were stationed between 1861-1862.

But it was the Spanish missionaries (whose route El Camino Real is now marked with bells like the one found in the median at Sepulveda and Jefferson by Petco) that brought horses to Southern California, beginning with the Portolá expedition of 1769. Breeds such as the Chilean Criollo, Puerto Rican Paso Fino, and American Paso Fino begat the California Vaquero horse, and vaquero horseman culture, which was the beginning of the American working cowboy.

1819 saw our area’s most important equestrian event when Agustín Machado, following California use permit law, rode as far and wide as he and his horse could manage from sunup to sundown, claiming what was to be known as Rancho La Ballona.

Machado was famous as a horseman, for horse-trading, and grand fiestas for each family wedding and each birth of his 15 grandchildren, which always included horseracing and rodeos. The latter tradition may be the reason we have Rodeo Road (soon to be renamed Obama Boulevard), which begins in Culver City.

In 1922 Harry Culver founded the Pacific Military Academy. First located on Washington Boulevard and later moved to Cheviot Hills, it is where Harry taught his daughter Patricia how to ride sidesaddle, and it is also where the photo here of Culver on horseback was taken.

Besides transportation and military use, horses have always been used for sport and gambling, and Culver City was not immune. The city’s horse racing track opened in 1923, but by December 1924 it was replaced by “Los Angeles Speedway.” Eventually the infield became Carlson Park.

Horses were a huge part of Culver City’s movie history, from Thomas Ince’s silent Westerns to Gone With The Wind’s carriage and warhorses. During the 1930s-50s Charlie Flores was the livery stable owner who leant his horses to MGM productions.

In the 1950s, during the early days of Fiesta La Ballona, descendants of Culver City’s first families paraded on horseback. This tradition remains to some degree with the pony rides at the current day Fiesta.

Today, horse property in the Los Angeles area is few, far between, and disappearing fast. One day when the oil in Baldwin Hills dries up, that land should by all rights become a park. Perhaps with public stables named after Charlie Flores, and riding trails named after Agustín Machado.