October 18 General Meeting and Program

Gas Main Ex plosion, 1976. ( Mark Morris )

The 1976 Explosion That Changed Everything

On June 16, 1976, a gas line exploded at the corner of Venice Boulevard and Bagley Avenue. The fire shot up hundreds of feet and dozens of fire trucks were brought in from the city of Los Angeles to help the local Culver City Fire Department. As fire inspector Jim Forte recalls, the fire was so hot that it “melted the plastic on the fire engine.” The explosion resulted in nine deaths, 26 hospitalizations, and 14 critically injured, as well as millions of dollars in property damage…all due to an “18-inch utility location error.” This tragic event resulted in the creation of a national toll-free number 811, which people can now call before digging in any area. Please join us for this powerful program in which we will show the short documentary “811” produced by Mark Morris followed by a Q&A with fire inspector Jim Forte and photographer Brian Haimer who were there on this historic day. We will then have a visit from the Culver City Fire Department, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Please note that this program will be on Tuesday, October 18, 7PM, in the Multipurpose Room of Veterans Memorial Building.

The public is invited to this free program. Regardless of vaccination status, L.A. County Public Health recommends that people continue to wear masks that fit and filter well in all indoor public places.

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July 23 General Program at The Hobbit Houses

Please note that this program will be on Saturday, July 23, 5-7PM.

Attendance is limited and pre-registration is required via Eventbrite. Address and parking details will be shared upon registration.

Have you ever wondered about the storybook buildings tucked away behind the condo complex on Dunn Drive? Now is your chance! The Lawrence and Martha Joseph residence and apartments, sometimes affectionately nicknamed “the Hobbit Houses,” were built single-handedly over several decades by Lawrence Joseph, a former Disney artist and aircraft engineer who worked on Lockheed’s Skunk Works. His wife Martha was the personal secretary to Lew Wasserman, president of MCA.

Current residents including Bob and “Critter” will share stories and all residents have generously agreed to open up their homes for tours. Bob, whose parents were personal friends of the Josephs, has lived at the residence off and on since 1964. Critter was a protégé of Lawrence Joseph in learning carpentry and design skills. Past residents include Zasu Pitts, Paula Prentiss, Richard Benjamin, and Gwen Verdon.

Following the talk and tour, guests can linger to hear music performed by two residents who are Grammy-winning artists!

Illustration by jones
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The Chamber Turned 100 and Honored Community Service

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In early March, the Culver City Chamber of Commerce celebrated its first 100 years of support for local businesses while recognizing its many members and volunteers in the business community, and also installing a new chair. It was a wonderful event that included live music, and it was a real treat to see everyone dressed up in person, rather than virtually.

For the gala and centennial celebration, Culver City Historical Society President Hope Parrish created a timeline of the Chamber’s accomplishments – from the first meeting minutes to the latest city proclamation. Business directories were on display, along with awards and photos of ribbon cuttings throughout the years. 

The Chamber’s Legacy of Service Award, voted on by the community and Chamber members, highlights a member who goes above and beyond in the community. This year’s nominees were Ed Wolkowitz, Jeff Cooper, Michael Hackman, and Hope.

The Historical Society was well-represented with a table full of family, officers, and members to showing support to both our Society and president.

We listened in anticipation to Culver City Chamber President & CEO Colin Diaz as he listed all the accomplishments, service clubs, time, and projects this person has been involved in over the years. Then he said, “You may have seen some of their work tonight.” We were overjoyed to hear Hope’s name called, knowing all her work and efforts over the years had been recognized.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been speechless!” Hope stated as she received the award.

Congratulations to the Chamber on 100 years, to all the award recipients, to Colin and his team, and to my mentor and friend, Hope.

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April 19 General Meeting and Program

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Up, Up and Away

Before there was a Los Angeles International Airport, several small airports peppered the Southern California landscape, including one in Culver City. 

By the late 1920s, Culver City was at the forefront of two pioneering and burgeoning industries: motion pictures and aviation. Did you know that the Culver City Airport was used by such notable aviators as Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart?  

Join us on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 7PM in the Multipurpose Room of Veterans Memorial Building as historian Marc Wanamaker and Historical Society president Hope Parrish co-present this look of our early local airports and how Culver City played a part in this aviation history.

The public is invited to this free program. Regardless of vaccination status, L.A. County Public Health strongly recommends that people continue to wear masks that fit and filter well in all indoor public places.

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The Archives Come Alive Again

The first official use of the historic movie backdrops obtained by the Culver City Historical Society from the Motion Picture Art Directors Guild occurred this past summer in a very public manner.

Musical theater workshops are held year-round at Vets Auditorium by dee-Lightful Productions, Culver City’s own theater education program for kids ages 7-17. Involving weeks of work, two plays were presented last summer, presented to large public audiences who very likely had not experienced live performance in several months due to the pandemic.

The season’s inaugural production, “Honk!,” enjoyed added production value when it was performed in front of the Historical Society’s 30-foot landscape backdrop.

Dolores Aguanno, program director of dee-Lightful Productions, produces the workshops.  She was overjoyed at the enhancement to their stage setting and noted that the visual quality of the backdrop made all the kids more enthusiastic about the show.

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