by Julie Lugo Cerra, City Historian
When the Culver City Historical Society was incorporated in 1980, the Society, under founding president Catherine Zermeno, began a program of marking historic sites. To qualify, a site must be at least 50 years old and be determined to have historic significance.
The first site marked by the Society took place in 1981, (ten years prior to the adoption of the city’s first Historic Preservation Ordinance). The first Historic Sites Chair was Charles R. Lugo. The markers are traditionally bronze plaques, some mounted in concrete, some on the existing structure. To date, the following sites have been marked by the Society:
Culver City Historic Sites
- Historic Site #1: 1928 City Hall
- Corner of Culver Blvd. at Duquesne. Marked November 21, 1981
- Historic Site #2: The Hull Building
- 9543 Culver Blvd at Watseka. First hospital, marked January 26, 1983
- Historic Site #3: St. Augustine church
- 10153 Washington Blvd. at Jasmine, marked December 4, 1983
- Historic Site #4: The Citizen Building
- 9355 Culver Blvd., marked October 18, 1984
- Historic Site #5: The Legion Building
- 3824 Hughes Ave., marked February 27, 1985
- Historic Site #6: Main Street
- Filed with the county in 1913, marked February 21, 1986
- Historic Site #7: The Studios
- 9336 Washington Blvd., Thomas Ince’s second studio in town, marked February 21, 1986
- Historic Site #8: The Lugo Ranch
- Last ranch operating locally, marked September 27, 1992
- Historic Site #9: The Helms Building
- Washington Blvd. at Helms. 1930s famed bakery coaches delivering daily to your door, marked September 20, 1997
- Historic Site #10: La Ballona School
- 10915 Washington Blvd. First school in what became Culver City, marked November 27, 2001
- Historic Site #11: Camp Latham
- Rotary Plaza at Virginia and Overland. Civil War Campsite in 1861-62, marked November, 2006
- Historic Site #12: Culver City’s First Park
- Braddock & LeBourget, marked May 27, 2010
- Historic Site #13: Veterans Memorial Building
- Marked December 10, 2011
- Historic Site: #14: Rollerdome
- Tellefson Park, marked 2019
In the 1980s, the City of Culver City commissioned a survey of historic structures. A Historic Preservation Advisory Committee was formed and the final document, completed by the city’s consultant, (30th Street Architects), was adopted by the Culver City Council in 1991. Three designations were made: Landmark, Significant, and Recognition, with the first two intended to offer protection to the structures. The Municipal Code, list and support materials are accessible on the city website, www.CulverCity.org.
The Cultural Affairs Commission was established and appointments made by the Culver City Council in 2000. This action folded Historic Preservation together with Art in Public Places. In 2004, the required plaques were ordered by the city and installed on those historic buildings. Oval city plaques were placed on structures designated as “ Landmark” or “Significant.”
In some cases, Historic Preservation and Public Art can be accomplished together. A case in point is “A Moment in Time” a bronze sculpture of city founder, Harry H. Culver, by De L’ Esprie. Mr. Culver, his wife, Lillian and only child, Patricia, are portrayed the year the city was incorporated, 1917. This photo op shows Mr. Culver, sitting on a bench, reading a newspaper that carries his 1913 speech, while his wife, Lillian stands behind, holding their baby, Patricia.
“A Moment in Time” was dedicated in 2006. Culver descendants
are pictured with the new public art work.
Other marked Sites:
Studio at 10202 W. Washington Boulevard
The first major motion picture studio in Culver City, the Heart of Screenland, was marked by the Native Daughters of the Golden West prior to the 1980 formation of the Culver City Historical Society. Originally Ince/Triangle Studios, it has been known as Goldwyn Studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, MGM/UA, Lorimar Telepictures and since January 1, 1990, it has been a part of Sony Pictures Entertainment, first as Columbia Pictures and then as Sony Pictures Studios. Although more than 180 acres on six lots at one time, it remains the largest studio in Culver City on its lot of 45 acres today. The marker is located on the colonnade on Washington Boulevard.
Buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Although it is actually in the City of Los Angeles, The Ivy Substation is on long-term lease from Los Angeles. It was renovated by the Culver City Redevelopment Agency for community use and is now the home of a resident theatre company, The Actor’s Gang.
Harry Culver’s 1924 landmark hotel, first known as The Hotel Hunt, now a four star hotel (See Main Street marking).
(9720-30 Washington Blvd.)
BYCO, the owner of this two-story structure, applied for National Register status successfully. The 1920s triangular building in the downtown area, across from The Culver Hotel, was built by Charles Lindblade, a business associate of Harry Culver. It is owned today by the developer of the Meralta Plaza block. It has been recognized with Landmark status by the City of Culver City as well.