Marking the Rollerdrome Site

Newly built Culver City Rollerdrome

Newly built Culver City Rollerdrome

Located on a portion of Rancho La Ballona, the Rollerdrome was the earliest significant structure on that site. That area had been a part of Culver City’s Annexation #4, known as the 1924 “Bohemia Annexation.” The Rollerdrome, a very popular roller-skating rink, was dedicated in the late 1920s by Mayor Reve Houck. It was a wooden skating rink, equipped with an organ. The space was also used for competitive skating events.

Culver City Rollerdrome patch used on skate case. (CCHS Collection)

Culver City Rollerdrome patch used on skate case. (CCHS Collection)

The Rollerdrome became a well-known recreational facility that appealed to skaters of all ages. Many people, like our own Virgie Eskridge, have shared their memories of time spent at this popular roller skating rink. Virgie remembers Mr. Osterloh, who served as the early organist. Another Society Founder, Ethel Ashby, often spoke of this historic site and its social significance to our community. She liked to point out the “strict dress code” precluded anyone from wearing “blue jeans!” It was a favored place to meet family and friends, celebrate birthdays, or enjoy a date. Skating options like “Regular Skate,” “All Women,” “Couples,” “Solitary” (interpreted as “solo time to show off”), were announced, along with the “All Men” call, which Ethel pointed out “made all men race like a bunch of whippets.

Early map of the area with several important recognizable local sites: Rollerdrome (centered), Kennel  Club, Stern’s Barbecue, Fox Hills Country Club, Loyola University, Sebastian’s Cotton Club, etc.

Early map of the area with several important recognizable local sites: Rollerdrome (centered), Kennel Club, Stern’s Barbecue, Fox Hills Country Club, Loyola University, Sebastian’s Cotton Club, etc.

”When the Rollerdrome was no longer viable as a skating rink, it was razed to make way for another recreational venue, a city park. It was named for Michael Tellefson, who served as a city employee, (Chief Administrative Officer and City Attorney), and as an elected Councilmember and Mayor (1930-34). Many remember Tellefson Park became an official 1976 U.S. Bicentennial dedication. Mike Tellefson advocated for other city-owned facilities, like the Veterans Memorial Building (1950), and he negotiated important contracts, like our sewer contract with Hyperion in 1951. His portrait hangs in the Mike Balkman Council Chambers at City Hall, and a Culver City street is named Tellefson. Mr. Tellefson and his wife lived on Irving Place.

Culver City Mayor Reve Houck, is pictured seated in the light suit during the ceremony to celebrate construction of our historic Rollerdrome in the late 1920s. Houck was also an advocate for Victory Park, Culver City’s first park, and the financing of the first city bus, which led the way to establish Culver City’s bus system, the second oldest in the state.

Culver City Mayor Reve Houck, is pictured seated in the light suit during the ceremony to celebrate construction of our historic Rollerdrome in the late 1920s. Houck was also an advocate for Victory Park, Culver City’s first park, and the financing of the first city bus, which led the way to establish Culver City’s bus system, the second oldest in the state.

We look forward to marking the Rollerdrome site as the Society’s Historic Site #14. Watch for an announcement of the marking date soon!

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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.

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3 Reasons Why Culver City Should Be Your Home

One of the great joys of being your city historian is the ability to share items like this vintage pamphlet. Many gifts to the Society bring our history into focus with pictures, which is “painless education” at its best! These scans from an early Culver City Chamber of Commerce brochure offer a look back to the 1928 City Hall, first Fire Station in Downtown Culver City, Culver CityBus, other transportation, Main Street, and a “group of new homes.” It also illustrates the point that our entry to the current City Hall honors the facade of its 1928 predecessor on the same site. We see our Culver City Police Department interacting with children, and we are reminded of the Helms Bakeries history, which included supplying bread to the nearby 1932 Olympic Village. Picnics in Victory Park, now Dr. Paul Carlson Park, are a long-standing tradition. If you can identify the street where the “group of new homes” are show below, please email the Society, to my attention!

Photo credit: Courtesy of Robert Battle, great-grandson of Harry Culver, from the Culver-Battle Collection. (Thank you, as always!)

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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.

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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.”

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