When the Culver City Historical Society was formed in 1980, under founding president Cathy Zermeno, there was no historic preservation ordinance or program. The Society began marking Historic Sites, which must be least 50 years old and hold historic significance.
At that time, there was great interest in marking the 1928 city hall. In their research, the Society learned that the first city offices were located on the second floor of the first movie theatre, which was torn down in the early 1920s to make way for the Hotel Hunt, (now Culver Hotel).
In 1922, city offices moved to Van Buren Place, where a building was constructed to hold the first Fire and Police Departments and City Hall.
The Society’s first marking, the site of the 1928 City Hall, (Culver at Duquesne), took place in 1981, 10 years prior to the adoption of their Historic Preservation Ordinance. Charles Lugo served as the first Historic Sites Chair. The markers are traditionally bronze plaques, some mounted in concrete, with others on the building. It was important to the Society to tell more than the date on the bronze markers, which evolved into a tradition.
Culver City Historic Site markings to date are:
No. 1 1928 City Hall (corner of Culver Blvd. at Duquesne- plaque under tree in the grass)
No. 2: The Hull Building (first hospital, now Akasha restaurant)
No. 3: St. Augustine’s Church (first church)
No. 4: The Citizen Building (printer/newspaper publisher)
No. 5: The Legion Building (first club house)
No. 6: Main Street (filed with the county in 1913 – marker in sidewalk on NE corner)
No. 7: The Culver Studios (Thomas Ince’s second studio in town)
No. 8: The Lugo Ranch (last ranch operating locally)
No. 9: The Helms Building (1930s famed bakery with coaches “delivering daily to your door”)
No. 10: La Ballona School (first school in what became Culver City)
No. 11: Camp Latham (Civil War campsite, marker on wall at Rotary Plaza at Virginia and Overland)
No. 12 : Culver City’s First Park, 1927 (Victory Park, renamed for medical missionary, Dr. Paul Carlson)
No. 13: Veterans Memorial Building, 1950. (marked 12-10-2011)
In the 1980s, Culver City hired 30th Street Architects to conduct a citywide survey of historic structures which was used to guide a Historic Preservation Advisory Committee. The final document was adopted by our City Council in 1991. A council-appointed Cultural Affairs Commission was in place in 2000, which dealt with Historic Preservation and Art in Public Places.
In 2004, the required plaques were ordered and installed on historic structures. Oval city plaques were placed structures designated by the city as Landmark or Significant.
Three Culver City structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places – The Culver Hotel, the Citizen Building, and the Washington Building (across from the Culver Hotel).
Today, your Culver City Historical Society is in the process of planning a Centennial marking of Historic Site No. 14. Nominations included Robert Frost Auditorium, named for the famed California-born poet. Since the building is being updated, it will not be ready for marking this year, and others like the site of the Rollerdrome, now Tellefson Park, is being considered.
For more information on historic sites, please see the CC Historical Society website: info@CulverCityHistoricalSociety.org.