Home Articles From Our Archives: Looking Back (2006)

From Our Archives: Looking Back (2006)

Looking Back - When Attorneys cost $50 a Month, History fun with Julie Lugo Cerra

When we are young we often ask questions about the past, or what my little brother used too call “the Olden Days?”. We want to know what life was like before us. And in Culver City, a lot happened to make this a city  – before us.

After Harry Culver garnered support for the town destined to carry his name, things needed to be done! In 1913, Culver filed “Main Street” (formerly a part of Rancho La Ballona) with the offices of the Los Angeles County Recorder. The next year, the people in Palms voted to become a part of Los Angeles, while Culver City remained independent, just as Culver planned. In 1915, filmmaker Thomas Ince, in a deal with Harry Culver, built the colonnade as the entry to Triangle Studios (now Sony Pictures), a venture with Mack Sennett and D.W. Griffith. In 1916, Culver City Grammar Schoool opened with six rooms, and Mrs. Dan Coombs was elected president of its newly formed PTA.

On August 13th, 1917, the Board of Supervisors ordered an election to be held on September 8th. The question was whether this should be a city, and if that passed, the winners for elected office could take their oaths. The first elected Board of Trustees numbered five. They were R.P. Davidson, Dan F. Coombs, Walter Edwards, V.R. Day, and B.J. Higuera. The other two elected officials were City Clerk Chas. F. Shillito, and City Treasurer C. N. Rosenthal. And the work of the city really began!

The Trustees (later known as the city council) adopted their first city resolution to provide for the appointment for a city attorney at $50/month. It did not take long before the need for city offices became clear. Resolution #4 leased the “upper floor without the projection room” of the “Culver Theatre”, from Fannie A. Henderson to do the business of the city. The building was located on the site of what is now the landmark Culver Hotel. The rate was $15 per month, which was published in the Culver City Call newspaper. The theatre photo appears in Charles A. Midgely’s scrapbook, found in Washington State. It tells of his family’s trip to Caliornia circa 1920. The page begins, “This is Thos. Ince’s little theatre where the actors go to see themselves in their new production. It is located near the studio and has a seating capacity of nearly 300. Note the billboards on either side of the lobby. We leave Culver City for Santa Monica and the little city of Inceville where Mr. Ince first started out in the field of picture producing.”

The studio referenced appears to be the Thomas H. Ince Studios, now The Culver Studios. Inceville was located where Sunset Boulevard meets Pacific Coast Highway today.  The photo is courtesy of Todd Speilberg who had carried it in Culver City, now the Heart of Screenland!

Culver City's FIrst City Office

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