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Notes from Your City Historian

by Julie Lugo Cerra


Of late, historic activities have been varied and great fun! In addition to my usual column in the CC News each week, I have been out on the “talk circuit” quite a bit.

It was my pleasure to speak to the Manhattan Beach Historical Society in May – Historic Preservation Month – at their charming museum in a historic house in Polliwag Park. My Powerpoint presentation covered the role of the movie industry in the development of Culver City.

Lion’s Club member Charles Deen asked for some help with information on their charter members which I presented at one of their meetings recently. That was fun – as their initial members included Harry Culver, Clarence V. Loop (first president of Culver City’s Board of Trustees) and other notables, like Cecil Truschel (CC Police Chief) who was related to our own Jozelle Smith. Joz is still the only second generation councilmember, and of course, her son Paul is also a “Lion” ….


Living History is over for this year, and it was tough saying goodbye to the seniors who have participated for the past three years. If you know any high school students who would like to be a part of this program, for which they earn community service credit, please encourage them. Teacher extraordinaire Drew Seymour at Culver High is our contact (CC High School: 310-842-4200).

All of the third graders at El Marino School celebrated May as Historic Preservation month with us – starting with a visit to the council chambers for a primer on community civics, then a walk around downtown. It was especially nice to share the first installation of council members’ (and early trustees) photos with all four groups!


How nice to have local TV station KTLA televise live from Culver City on their Morning Show on May 18th from 7-10 am (3 full hours!). Culver City has a lot to offer, and they did a nice job from profiling our past to the history-making changes now happening downtown!

Many of our members – including the City Council, Steve Newton with his 1930 CC police car, the Culver Hotel, along with your historian – got air time. This, in addition to all the press – NY Times, LA Times, Tour and Leisure, California Tour and Travel – is great recognition for our little oasis. Harry is still right – “All Roads lead to Culver City!”

We continue to receive wonderful information from Robert Elliott of the First Motion Picture Unit (FMPU), who now lives in Florida. In June, I received an amazing compilation of subjects he photographed while he was serving at “Fort Roach” (as the old Hal Roach Studio was affectionately called during WWII) and staying in the “barracks” at the Pacific Military Academy. Mr. Elliott was one of the fine folks we interviewed up at WLA College, so we have him recorded on tape as well.

Isn’t it great that we have a nice tie to the Culver Hotel? New Manager Douglas Newton, of the ”Culver City Newtons,” allowed us to share a table with the hotel at the CC Chamber Expo on June 27th , and walk folks over to the hotel for informal history briefings on the hotel’s fascinating history since it was built in 1924 by city founder Harry H. Culver.

On the day of the 4th Annual George Barris Car Show, who rolled into town but past CCHS president Marti Diviak with her husband Dennis! Cathy Zermeno graciously opened up the new ARC to show them our long-awaited digs. Marti, who worked at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), spent a lot of time evaluating and identifying the MGM costumes, and displaying them. She is still actively enjoying historic pursuits and was putting together an exhibit of vintage aprons and cookbooks in Oregon. “Little” Susan, their daughter, is all grown up and teaches dance. She was traveling Europe while they were visiting Culver City.

And, adding to my many other historical pursuits, I now have been made a member of the Board of the LA City Historical Society. It will be a pleasure to work with my little cousin, and a fellow CCHS member, Christina Machado Essex (who got me into this!). My Lugo ancestors came to Alta California in 1774, and Francisco Salvador Lugo (a grandfather) was present at the founding of the pueblo of Los Angeles. No wonder I feel so old!

Just a reminder, historically: 2007 not only marks the 90th Anniversary of the incorporations of Culver City, but also the 100th anniversary of the Ivy Substation!

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