Culver City's Historic Preservation Program was established by Ordinance in 1991 and includes a process by which sites can be designated Cultural Resources at one of three levels based on their architectural, historical, and/or cultural importance. Current program guidelines are included in the City’s Municipal Code under Chapter 15.05.
In November 1987, Thirtieth Street Architects, Inc. completed a field survey of significant structures in Culver City that became the basis for the August 29, 1990 Culver City Historic Preservation Advisory Committee Report ("HPAC Report"). The 1990 HPAC Report ranked over 100 structures (including film studio, commercial and residential properties) for designation as Cultural Resources at either "Landmark," "Significant" or "Recognized" levels. The "Landmark" designation was reserved for properties considered exceptional examples of the highest architectural/cultural/historical significance to the Culver City community; the "Significant" designation applied to properties determined to be of substantial architectural/historic or cultural significance; and, "Recognized" applied to those properties determined to be of architectural, historic or cultural interest.
These designations were conceptually approved by the City Council on October 15, 1990, brought back to City Council for further consideration in early 1991, and finally adopted by Resolution on April 22, 1991. A total of 50 structures currently have either "Landmark" or "Significant" designations. Culver City also has three designated historic districts: 11027 - 11047 Braddock Drive; 4052 - 4070 Lafayette Place; and, 4128 - 4181 McConnell Boulevard. Three of Culver City's "Landmark" structures are also included in the National Register of Historic Places. These are the Washington Building (9720-9730 Washington Blvd.), the Citizen Building (9355 Culver Blvd.) and the Culver Hotel (9400 Culver Blvd.).
In 2014, the City Council designated the former Culver City Ice Arena, located at 4545 Sepulveda Blvd., a Cultural Resource at the "Significant" level because of its association with post-war indoor recreation that catered to youth of the baby boom generation in a developing suburban context and its association with ice skating, both for recreation and as organized and professional sports in the form of figure skating and hockey, providing a place to support and cultivate local interest and talent, including individuals who became national and Olympic champions.
In 2001, the City's historic preservation program was incorporated under the purview of the newly established Cultural Affairs Commission. The Cultural Affairs Commission has the authority to recommend to the City Council the designation of structures as cultural resources. Any alterations to the exterior of "Landmark" or "Significant" structures require Cultural Affairs staff comment as part of the review process.
Owners of historic properties, especially those with "Landmark" or "Significant" designations, are encouraged, at a minimum, to familiarize themselves with Culver City's requirements as outlined in the CCMC as well as the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (which includes the widely cited Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings). In addition, the National Park Service has created Rehab Yes/No, an on-line tutorial addressing basic issues that frequently arise during rehabilitation. For further reading, the National Park Service also has available, free of charge, a series of Preservation Briefs that are designed as basic "how to" guides written by field experts. Familiarizing yourself with these guidelines and resources will not only assist you in caring for your historic property but will also help you to plan and prepare yourself in advance of commencing a remodeling project involving a historic structure.
If you are planning a remodeling project that will affect the exterior of either a "Landmark" or "Significant" designated structure, your project may involve a Certificate of Appropriateness as part of the review and approval process. Please refer to the City's Historic Preservation Ordinance for definitions and guidelines. Cultural Affairs staff work closely with both Planning Division and Building Safety Division staff in reviewing tenant improvement applications involving historic properties (also referred to as remodeling/alteration projects) submitted to either of those divisions.
If you are interested in local, regional or national historic preservation issues, the web sites listed below are some excellent resources. These organizations are also sources for additional information on state (e.g., California Environmental Quality Act) and federal guidelines that apply to local historic preservation programs in California.
B. Christine Byers
Cultural Affairs, Public Art & Historic Preservation Coordinator
(310) 253-6003 or email