Notes From Your City Historian: Winter 2017

Looking Back

As a new year emerges full of promise, it also sends us back in time to think about accomplishments, our city’s first hundred years, and its future. My interest in local history began with the Lugo Ranch, and was enhanced by a plea from my mother to “take your father to the new historical society.” My dad, she suggested, “would be a natural.” She was right, and it was fun!

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1981 Marking of Historic Site #1, City Hall. (L-to R) Councilmember Richard Alexander, CCHS President Catherine Zermeno, and Historic Sites Chair Charles R. Lugo.

 

The Society sparked my research on historic sites. The city had no ordinance to protect historic structures at that time, so in 1981 we were treading on uncharted waters. Politically, it was clear the city did not want to be restricted in issuing permits for structural or cosmetic changes. The bad news is that the 1928 City Hall is gone. The good news is that people can see the original plaque with names of the Board of Trustees at the time, from 1928 on the 3/4 façade entry to the current/same City Hall site, with updated information. In addition, the historic site plaque is read by many in the grassy area on the corner of Duquesne and Culver Boulevards.

Since then a Culver City Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (HPAC) was formed. Several society members served on the committee (including Judy Potik, Stephen Schwartz, Mary Ellen Fernandez, Carolyn Cole, and Jim Lamm). An Historic Preservation ordinance was passed by the City Council in 1990, and later, it was combined with Art in Public Places, codified and placed under a newly formed Cultural Affairs Commission. The results of that action can be seen on the city website and in plaques on historic structures like The Hull Building (CCHS Historic Site #2), The Citizen Building (CCHS Site #4), and many more. Artworks like the bronze lion sculpture fountain and the Culver Family in “A Moment In Time” (both of which can be found adjacent to The Culver Hotel) are examples of public art with a tie to local history.

Another benefit of local historic research is the cooperative City-Society partnership in providing tours. Our first bus tours were written for Fiesta La Ballona. The city provided the bus and driver while the Society’s contribution yielded the scripted route and trained docents. In the early days, we were often lucky to have Harry Culver’s daughter, Patricia Culver Battle, join us on board the 55-minute runs. A big challenge became return route information after Washington Boulevard. Sites seemed sparse after we turned onto La Cienega Boulevard. My father, with a little gleam in his eye, suggested I translate the word “La Cienega” for the answer. Somehow my high school Spanish classes did not talk much about “swamps,” but that became another bit of information to share!

As always, I encourage you to enjoy the benefits of our Culver City Historical Society. Visit the CCHS Archives, website, look for historic sites, the new bus wraps with historic photos, be active and share your insights into local history!

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A View From the Top

p-1-backlot-1978In June 1960, when Rich Langsford was 12 years old, he got to do what many Culver City residents only dream of doing — go up in the tower of the Veterans Memorial Building. Fortunately for us, he brought a movie camera.

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A glimpse of this set can be seen from above in Rich Langford’s footage.

In town for his Culver City High School 50th class reunion in September, this Class of ‘66 alum presented the Historical Society with a DVD transfer of the film, which was shot on a Kodak Brownie 8mm camera.

The story goes that Rich’s mother, Marjorie, worked at MGM, first in the script department and later as personal secretary for Rod Serling, a screenwriter best known as creator and narrator of The Twilight Zone television series. One day Rich joined his mother for lunch at the Tower Restaurant, which once operated inside the Veterans Memorial Building under the tower, and he just so happened to have his camera with him.

Rich isn’t sure if his mother made an appointment to go up the tower’s elevator or if she just asked nicely, but somehow they were able to spend some time enjoying the view. In 1960 that view would have included a look into MGM’s Lot 2, which included backlot mainstays like “New England Street,” “Grand Central Station”, “Small Town Square,” featured in films like The Philadelphia Story, Meet Me in St. Louis and, yes, TV shows like The Twilight Zone. These days Lot 2 is where the Culver City Senior Center and the Studio Estates neighborhood are located.

“I just did a panoramic filming,” Rich says. “Of course I wasn’t a very good cinematographer when I was 12. It’s all kind of jittery. But it gives you a pretty good idea. You can see some things have changed since then.”

If you would like to see Rich’s 1960 view of Culver City from Vet’s Tower, the DVD can be screened at the Historical Society’s Archives and Resource Center during open hours.

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Winter 2017 Message

Dear Members and Friends,Michelle Bernardin, President

This is the time of year when we remind you, our members, to renew your membership with the Society. As you may know, the Society Board is comprised only of volunteers, so there are no staff salaries to pay. At our January 18 General Meeting and Program, the membership will be presented with our 2017 budget. You will see every line item where money is spent and earned. Your dues keep this organization’s doors open for students, researchers, and the public. We cannot do this without you, and your support is appreciated.

Dues and dedicated, wonderful PEOPLE keep our Society plugging away. We are looking for a few good men and women to plug away with us. If you have skills with WordPress websites, digital video editing, or librarian knowledge – we want to know you! If you’re a wiz with parliamentary procedure (a lost art!), we’re very interested in knowing you. Please email me michelle@culvercityhistoricalsociety.org if you are interested in learning more about helping us.

I look forward to seeing you at our January 18 General Meeting and Program, highlighting the life and work of the man himself, Harry H. Culver. No centennial would be complete without this Culver City history primer. As we close the door on 2016, I wish you and yours a very happy New Year and, as always, thank you for supporting your Historical Society!

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October 19 General Meeting and Program

Costumes Galore…MGM and More

Multipurpose Room, Veterans Memorial Building, 7PM

 

The Culver City Historical Society will present a special multi-faceted program featuring the care and display of Culver City’s MGM costume collection by Denice Renteria, Costume Chair, and Sharon Shore, past Costume Chair, plus a presentation by Louise Coffey-Webb, former Society President.

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Denice

Renteria, a prop maker for Knott’s Berry Farm, and Shore, an internationally and nationally known conservator of textiles, will begin with a visual presentation and discussion about the costume collection held in the

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Sharon

 

Archives and Resource Center (ARC), and will show several costumes. Coffey-Webb, costume historian Project Manager for the James G. Gallanos Foundation, and author of Managing Costume Collections: An Essential Primer, will give a lively illustrated introduction to the joys and trials of costume collections of all shapes and sizes.

Coffey-Webb will be selling her book at a special price and will sign them.

The ARC will be open after the meeting where additional costumes will be on

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Louise Coffey-Webb

display.

 

Members and the public are invited to enjoy this free program. Entry is through the ARC from the back parking lot.

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