Marking #14

Rollerdome, exterior (Culver City Historical Society)

As a founding member of our Culver City Historical Society, it is hard to express the depth of my great pride as we plan the marking of Historic Site #14, the Rollerdrome.

The Rollerdrome opened in 1928 on land annexed to Culver City in 1924, first inhabited by Tongva Native Americans. It could accommodate more than 200 people and became an important fixture in our social scene. The site of the Rollerdrome became Tellefson Park, built and named during the U.S. Bicentennial celebration in 1976. Michael Tellefson served Culver City as city attorney, mayor, and chief administrative officer. If you lived on Irving Place, you might have known the Tellefsons.

Rollerdome, interior (Culver City Historical Society)

As a researcher, I can honestly say that residents and visitors who spent time at the Rollerdrome always have wonderful stories to tell—from the dress code (no jeans), to their birthday parties and skating competitions! We have gathered detailed information and memories from notable residents like Virgie Eskridge, Ethel Ashby, Jean Barker, and many others—like the Rollerdrome’s organ, which became a reality in 1929, a few years after it opened. Most even remember the name of Mr. Osterloh, the organist who played music for “Couples Skate,” “Singles Skate,” and “All Skate.”

A kind donor parted with his sister’s skates, an amazing gift to our society, still housed in the original case! The skates bring back memories to the delight of many visitors! We will make sure it is on display again as we mark the site.

We have been working with our wonderful city staff, headed by City Manager John Nachbar, and our Parks and Recreation staff, headed by Corey Lakin and Patrick Reynolds. We look forward to unveiling the marker before the year’s end (before some planned upgrades to the playground) and hope you join us for the celebration. Check back here and on social media for the big announcement!

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October 16 General Meeting and Program

The Animation History of MGM

The MGM Cartoon Department brought the world Tom & Jerry, Droopy, Barney Bear and many more characters loved the world over.

Legends of hand-drawn animation including Hanna and Barbara, Tex Avery, and Chuck Jones were responsible for hours of animated shorts, some of which were filmed in 3-strip Technicolor, some produced in CinemaScope, and some won the Academy Award for Best Animated Shorts.

Jerry Beck

On Wednesday, October 16 at 7 p.m. animation historian Jerry Beck will give a talk and video presentation on the animation history of MGM, including a tribute to beloved painter, inker, and Society member Martha Sigall.

Jerry Beck is a writer, animation producer, college professor, and author of more than 15 books on animation history. He is a former studio executive with Nickelodeon Movies and Disney, and has written for The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. He has curated cartoon home video compilations and has lent his expertise to dozens of special feature documentaries and audio commentaries. Beck is currently on the faculty of Cal Arts, teaching animation history.

Historical Society members and the general public are invited to enjoy this FREE program in the Multipurpose in Veterans Memorial Building, located at 4117 Overland Avenue. The entrance to the ARC and Multipurpose Room is from the back parking lot.

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Getting Ready to Mark History!

I admit I am feeling a little nostalgic! I remember a call from my mom, shortly after my dad,

City Hall, Pictured in the 1950s. (Historic Site No.1)

Captain Charles Reyes Lugo, retired from CCPD in 1979. After reading about the formation of a Culver City Historical Society, she realized that his Lugo family history could be a benefit to keeping him active with community service. I promised to take him to the first meeting of our Historical Society at the home of Fire Chief John Kearney and his wife Mildred.

Soon after that first meeting, Dad became our first Historic Sites Chair and the Society began a program of marking historic sites at least 50 years old. We celebrated marking our first site in 1981, the 1928 City Hall (where City Hall stands today), ten years prior to the adoption of our city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance. In the 1980s, the City of Culver City acted to fund a survey of historic structures. A Historic Preservation Advisory Committee formed and the final document, completed by 30th Street Architects, was adopted by our City Council in 1991. A Cultural Affairs Commission was appointed by the council in 2000, which folded Historic Preservation and Art in Public Places together. In 2004, oval city plaques were ordered and installed on historic structures designated by the city as “Landmark” or “Significant.” The National Register has also recognized structures in our city.

City Hall with Street Sweepers (Julie Lugo Cerra)

Our historic plaques are traditionally bronze, mounted in concrete or affixed to the structure. The Society fundraising pays for these narrative markers. I encourage you to visit our website — culvercityhistoricalsociety.org/historic-sites — then go outside and explore the 13 sites we have marked. We are thrilled to mark our 14th site later this year, The Rollerdrome. We will also be mounting an exhibit in the Culver City Historical Society Archives to celebrate and share items, such as an original pair of roller skates. Announcements will go out soon! Join the fun!

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July 17 General Meeting and Program

The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop: A Presentation that Literally Goes Behind the Scenes

The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, a book by Richard M. Isackes and Karen L. Maness, is a large format book that includes sumptuous photos of movie backdrops, and the stories of the scenic artists that produced them.

As revered film historian Leonard Maltin wrote, the book “reveals a facet of moviemaking that even savvy film buffs may not know about … You will be amazed, as I was, at the number of familiar scenes from films as varied as The Wizard of Oz, North by Northwest, and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events that make use of these canvases … This is truly an eye-opening book and a valuable contribution to our understanding of how movies are created.”

On Wednesday, July 17, at 7 p.m. Karen Maness will give a talk and presentation all about the subject matter of The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop.

Ms. Maness collaborated in the 2017 Art Directors Guild Archives Backdrop Recovery Project, which recovered over 200 MGM backdrops from Hollywood’s golden age of film for display and study. She is a professor of scenic art, figurative painting, and practical special effects for UT Live Design at the University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre & Dance and Scenic Art Supervisor at Texas Performing Arts. A limited number of books will be available for purchase, and Ms. Maness will be available for a book signing after the program.

Historical Society members and the general public are invited to enjoy this FREE program in the Rotunda Room in Veterans Memorial Building, located at 4117 Overland Avenue. (Please note the change in room–because we have surprises to display!) The entrance to the Rotunda Room is at the front of Vets, on the corner of ARC and Multipurpose Room is through the back of the building and open to the public.

 

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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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