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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April 19 General Meeting and Program

Aerial CC Airport #2
Aerial Photo CC Airport B&W
Goodyear Blimp #3
HHC Plane (WM)
Leaman #1
Margaret Perry
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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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October 20 General Meeting and Program

Hollywood’s Trains & Trolleys presented by Marc Wanamaker
Rotunda Room, Veterans Memorial Building, 7PM

1929 promotion of Paramount’s sound films. World’s first fleet of Sound Trains. (Marc Wanamaker)

Have you started traveling again? Hop on board and travel, Hollywood-style, with film historian and author Marc Wanamaker as he shares stories from his and the late Josef Lesser’s new book Hollywood’s Trains & Trolleys. Learn about how the development of the transportation system in Southern California intertwined with the motion picture industry, starting over 100 years ago. Special focus will be given to the Culver City area.

Marc is always entertaining and a great storyteller. This program will not disappoint! There will be a book signing after the presentation. The book would make a great holiday gift for train and Hollywood enthusiasts alike.

Following COVID guidelines, masks are required inside Veterans Memorial Building.

Pre-registration is required via Eventbrite. The public is invited to this free program.

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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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