Summer 2019 Message

Hope ParrishSummer Greetings to our newest members and to our loyal lifetime and annual members who support us each year! We had a busy Spring!

In April, the Historical Society began work on a new collaboration with Culver City High School. We joined the Wende Museum and other local business at the Student Career Day. Our plan is to begin a volunteer internship program with our local students who have a desire to learn about Culver City history and preservation. We have lots of interest, which is exciting!

I hope everyone enjoyed the April General Meeting and Program, “From Barney Fife to Beats: Culver City’s 40 Acres Backlot.” Standing room only, we were taken back in time with Steve Bingen and Mark Wanamaker.

Steve Newton has our thanks for the time and care he put into a wonderful display of Culver City Car Club memorabilia at the ARC. Our visitors enjoyed it while we opened during the Exchange Club Car Show.

Special thanks to the Culver City Council for recognizing our work during May’s Historic Preservation month. We had a great show of support from our members and volunteers to accept a City proclamation.

Did you “Spring clean?” Cleaned out a closet, garage, or attic? Came across something related to Culver City’s historic past? A photo, business card, menu, or matchbook from a business that is no longer here? Let’s see what you got! Your Historical Society can be the new home of your Culver City treasures, preserving and displaying them for future guests to view. Send a photo and brief description of your treasures to info@culvercityhistoricalsociety.org. We want to continue our growth and be a rich source of research for our community.

I look forward to seeing you!
Hope

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Our Newspaper Treasures

Culver City’s history always amazes me! From early times when our Native Americans traversed this area, using natural resources wisely, to our Spanish ancestors who shared their customs, to the continuing influx of amazing immigrants who expand our cultural wealth every day.

First Society historic site marking at City Hall in 1981. Left to right, from back: Councilmembers Richard Alexander, Paul Netzel, and Richard Brundo; Catherine Zermeno, Society president; Councilmember Paul Jacobs; and Charles Lugo, Historic Sites chair. H. Dale Jones, CAO of Culver City, is kneeling on the left. (Julie Lugo Cerra)

Newspapers serve as incredible sources of information from early times on a daily basis! Our Culver City Historical Society has been lucky to receive, save, and protect early newspapers like The Culver City Star, Evening Star News and The Citizen. The front page pictured is dated September 22, 1927 and notes that it is “Published Daily Except Sunday.” It clearly validates our information that Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, who is posed next to movie actress Marion Davies, visited the M-G-M movie lot, and met Louis B. Mayer, who was “manager of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio.” Culver City’s mayor, Reve Houck, is pictured on the far right. Note the studio is illustrated above, with the Washington Boulevard frontage. Palms is recognized to the north, also on the right.

Many of you are aware that we had a “Culver City Airport” which was in the area of Jefferson and Sepulveda Boulevards. City founder Harry Culver kept his plane there, and it was from that airport that Culver flew across the country with his wife Lillian and daughter Patricia, during his tenure as president of the National Real Estate Association. Our collection includes a book of letters, clippings, and photos documenting that trip. Many years ago, I received a call from a church in the Inland Empire asking if we would like a book of Culver photos. After rescuing the amazing treasure, the Society surprised the Culvers’ daughter, Patricia Culver Battle, by returning it to her at one of our meetings. A delighted Patricia graciously turned the table on us and left it in our care. We are grateful that Patricia’s descendants, who now live out of state, continue to support our society with photos and details of Culver history!

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Revisiting “Dream Street”

It was my great pleasure to meet the legendary director George Sidney just before the turn of the millennium, while I was program director for the American Cinematheque. I was concurrently the newsletter editor of our Society newsletter, Culver Historical Highlights. George was kind enough to write a piece for the Winter 2000 newsletter, entitled “Dream Street,” his homage to Washington Boulevard. In my view, this was his love letter to the film history of Culver City. Enjoy these excerpts and visit our website for his entire article.

George Sidney’s cover letter, submitting his “Dream Street” article for Winter 2000 Society newsletter. (Judy Stangler)

Everyone has a favorite street—Broadway, Bond Street, Canal Street, Rue de la Paix, State Street, Via Veneto, even the Yellow Brick Road. I first saw mine and walked on my “dream street” in 1930: Washington Boulevard in Culver City.

My footprints shared the path with the entertainment greats—factual, historical and fictional who worked at the studios of the reel cinema world which were created and built along its curbs, such as Triangle, MGM, RKO, Pathé, and Desilu.

From Ince, DeMille, Mayer, Roach, and Selznick came forth a mecca of creativity which encouraged the talents of Thalberg, Freed, Stromberg, Welles, Ford, Stevens, Capra, and Flemming, as well as Minnelli, Lubitsch, Wilder, Leonard, Frankenheimer, and Spielberg, among so many others.

My footsteps echoed alongside those of the Munchkins, Garbo and Lassie, Trader Horne and Lena Horne, Clark Gable and Captains Courageous, Lawrence Tibbet and Elvis (along with Frank and Bing), Astaire and Kelly, and the Nicholas Brothers.

I watched Mickey and Judy grow up; Our Gang remaining kids forever; Tom and Jerry wreaking havoc. I experienced the burning of Atlanta and Gone with the Wind, the San Francisco earthquake, locusts and The Good Earth, and Singin’ in the Rain.

I strutted along with all of these stars and celluloid giants who paved the way for those who will continue to matriculate on this street for the entertainment of 2000 and beyond. It all happens on my “dream street” in Culver City.

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Spring 2019 Message

Hope ParrishWith so much rain, we are guaranteed a beautiful Spring!

When I joined the Culver City Historical Society in 2008, I had no idea that I would be as involved as I have become. I needed a little something to do while I was recovering from back surgery. I was given some fun tasks to research, which started my curiosity about our town. Hours were spent in our volumes of printed newspapers, dating from 1920-mid 1930’s, reading about the stars, the studio executives – not just MGM, but all the studios in Culver City – even scandals of the day! As a person who loves history, especially ours, it was very exciting for me to read and absorb what Harry Culver and our forefathers did to bring us homes, schools, jobs, and community services.

In the Archives, we also have volumes of newspapers on microfilm, which until now could not be accessed without the proper equipment. With a very generous donation from Society members and current Vice-Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells and Karim Sahli, we now have a state-of-the-art microfilm machine (see photo below). Our microfilm rolls start in the 1940’s and continue to the 1980’s. I can’t wait to discover the history in them!

As Culver City continues its growth, I am also thrilled with the many opportunities to meet and help our local neighbors and students on our open Sundays. They come to the ARC looking for information for their various projects. We will now be able to help access more information, so this is exciting!

Our docents are in the process of digitizing these rolls. If you would like to get in on the fun and get involved with this and other projects at your Culver City Historical Society, please contact us at info@culvercityhistoricalsociety.org.

We can’t do this without you!

Hope

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An Unexpected Culver History Lesson, Part 3

I could write thousands of words of what I learned about Harry Culver and his family on my two recent trips to Nebraska over the last eight months.

Harry Culver home in Omaha, NE. (Hope Parrish)

It all came into focus when I learned that Harry moved to Omaha in 1908. He became the manager for real estate developer George P. Bemis. Harry purchased a home in the Bemis development at 3401 Hawthorne adjacent to the Bemis Park. I drove through that neighborhood and found his home beautifully located up on a hill just north of downtown (see photo).

The following year, Harry decided he should go into business for himself and opened his own brokerage office in Omaha’s National Bank Building. He sold large parcels of farm land, offering exchanges of property with merit. “We make a specialty of exchanging Property.”

When Harry arrived in California, as many know, he worked with Isaac Newton Van Nuys, developing the valley. In my opinion, what he learned from Van Nuys, Bemis, his father, and others provided him the tools that he needed to take on this task of developing his own city.

Not stopping there, he became president of the National Association of Realtors, flying around the country, giving hundreds of speeches each year. When I was in Nebraska, I felt a familiar sense of home. One telling sign, it occurred to me that no matter the size of the town I visited, there was a park in each neighborhood. I have read that one of the requirements Harry Culver instilled in his developers was that they should have a park in their neighborhood plan. Coincidence? Culver City has ten parks and five elementary schools that give our children and families a place to gather, learn, and enjoy.

Is this why our town is so unique? Could it be why many say Culver City is a “model city”? Harry H. Culver gave to my family and many others a beautiful city with jobs, homes, and community. Thank you, Harry Culver, for your vision, passion, and service to the world.

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