The Rollerdrome is Marked!

Under a Covid veil our historic marker was set in cement. Because of the pandemic it was unveiled with little fanfare. Thankfully, our markers outlast the speeches and applause and have become vital and permanent narratives, communicating our city’s history. As has been printed in several articles of this newsletter over the last two years the Rollerdrome was a social and recreational touchpoint in Culver City’s history from 1928 to 1970. The Historical Society is thrilled to mark the site at Tellefson Park with our 14th bronze plaque.

We look forward to a time when it is safe to gather as a large group in order to celebrate this marker and share memories of the Rollerdrome. Until then, we encourage you to mask up and take the people in your pod to read the marker at Tellefson. If your pod mates are of the younger set, they will enjoy the brand-new playground equipment.

Collaboration is crucial and we would not have a bronze plaque, on a cement block, in Tellefson Park were it not for our friends at the City of Culver City Parks, Recreation and Community Services (PRCS) Department and Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, with the leadership of our Historic Sites Chair (and City Historian) Julie Lugo Cerra.

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Spring 2021 Message

Dear Members and Friends:

Happy Spring to all!

It has been an exceptionally long year, and I am hopeful that we are moving toward some sort of normal and on a road to recovery.

After reaching out to you in January, we named a few positions that needed to be filled so that we could continue operations. We received an amazing response, with people asking how to get involved. This was the best news we had in a year!

Firstly, I would like to thank Emelie Gerard, our 2020 vice president of development and also former secretary, for her work with the Historical Society. It became necessary for her to step away for a little spell and hope she can rejoin us down the road. With unanimous support of the board, I am delighted to announce Denice Renteria as our new vice president of development. She has worked extremely hard as our costumes chair, and she has many wonderful ideas to implement over the next two years!

Secondly, as you are reading this, we have successfully printed our newsletter again. I want to thank Michelle Bernardin and Carolyn O’Brien, (Carolyn is one of our newest volunteers) for putting this together again. Like many, we were noticeably quiet last year, but we are back!

Which brings me to our General Meetings and Programs. After reading of the change to programs in our January membership renewal letter, member Clare Denk inquired how she could help. She has volunteered to bring us a program this spring (see front page). This will be our very first virtual program, and I hope you will join us as we present pieces of our city’s history in a very modern modality.

Thank you for your continued support,

Hope

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April 28 General Meeting and Program

The Culver Theatre: From The Red Stallion to Kirk Douglas | Virtual Program

Culver Theatre, 1947 (Image courtesy of Marc Wanamaker)

Do you miss going to the movies? Go back in time as we revisit the Culver Theatre which still stands today! The Culver Theatre opened on August 13, 1947 with the film The Red Stallion. It was designed in the “Skouras style,” an over-the-top baroque style named after its inspiration Charles Skouras, head of Fox West Coast Theatres. In the 1970s, Mann Theatres split the Culver into three theatres. In 1989, it was closed and later gutted after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In 2004, Center Theatre Group restored, repurposed, and reopened it as the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Clare Denk, interim vice president of programs for the society, will discuss its history from its opening day to its closing and subsequent deterioration during the 1990s. Eric Sims, associate general manager of Center Theatre Group, will discuss its restoration as well as share a couple of entertaining stories about Kirk Douglas and shed light on current filming projects taking place within the theatre during the pandemic.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN US virtually for this program at 7pm on Wednesday, April 28.

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Classic Films Commemorative T-Shirt

The city motto of Culver City, California, is “The Heart of Screenland,” and this is not hyperbole. During the Golden Age of major movie studios in the 1930s more films were made in Culver City than in Hollywood.

The Historical Society has memorialized this part of our city’s heritage by commissioning a tribute to classic movie posters that brings to life four memorable and popular images of the town’s history:

The landmark Culver Hotel flatiron building was featured in countless Keystone Cops, Laurel and Hardy, and Little Rascals films. The original King Kong was filmed on Culver City’s RKO backlot in 1933. The “Spruce Goose,” the largest wooden airplane ever built and a pet project of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, was built in what’s now Playa Vista. Lastly, The Wizard of Oz was filmed in 1938 at MGM, the world’s largest film studio at the time.

These iconic events were re-envisioned by talented artist Jason Moser of Hudsonville, Michigan. The first use of the colorful artwork is a full-color, high quality t-shirt now available in the Historical Society’s online shop.

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Holiday Message 2020

Season’s Greetings, Members and Friends of the Culver City Historical Society!

As we near the end of the year 2020, I find myself reflecting on how difficult this year has been. And, unfortunately, it is not over yet. We must all continue to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. Many of us got creative with ways to communicate, work, and stay in touch with our family and friends. Smaller gatherings of 10 or less, staying six feet apart and wearing masks are our new normal. If you are like me and my family, we have become dependent on FaceTime, Zoom, and the myriad other virtual options to stay in touch and see the eyes of our loved ones.

The Historical Society, tenants of the Veteran’s Memorial Building, are required to follow their protocols and safety guidelines. Until the building reopens for public gatherings, we will unfortunately remain closed. Please know we miss you at our programs and our Sunday open afternoons and remain hopeful that the Society will reopen in 2021.

Movie poster from the holiday classic “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944)

We cannot wait for the day we can put out our “Open to History” signs and greet you at the door! It will be a time of great celebration. When the virus spikes subside and it is safe, it is our hope to “dip our toes” back and work in small groups of volunteers to ready the Archives and Resource Center for visitors. The collection has received so many new and wonderful items that will be put on display. In the meantime, we are exploring how to bring our conversations and programs to you through a virtual modality. I encourage you to take time over this holiday season with a cozy beverage and enjoy the new videos that Mark has uploaded to our YouTube channel over the last several months.

On behalf of the board of the Culver City Historical Society, we want to wish you and your loved ones a healthy and happy holiday season, and a brighter 2021!

With warmest wishes,

Hope Parrish, President

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