City Halls, Buildings

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The first City meetings were held on Main St, second floor 

historical city hall photo When Culver City was founded, the elected officials were called the Board of Trustees. Their first meeting place was on the second floor of the local theatre, which is site of the Culver Hotel today. By the end of the 1920s, they became the City Council, with the mayor as the official spokesman for the city. When Harry Culver decided to build his hotel, the city hall, police and fire departments located themselves just down the street on Van Buren Place. 

City Hall dedicated in 1928 
historical city hall photoIt was not until 1928 that bond financing was passed to build the City Hall at 9770 Culver Boulevard. The current city hall was opened in 1995, and has a 3/4 replica of the 1928 city hall's front at its entry (note 1928 structure above). During the time the 1928 structure was demolished and the new structure built, the city offices were located in an Interim City Hall facility at the corner of Overland and Culver, on a corner of the old MGM Movie Lot #2. That is the site of Senior Housing and a new Senior Center. Our first Senior Citizens and Community Center was established in 1972 by former Chief Administrative Officer Jody Hall-Esser, and became a model center. 

Another important city building is the Veterans Memorial Building, above. According to city records, the City of Culver City acquired the major portion of land for this park on January 10, 1938. The purchase was made from Security-First National Bank. Formerly known as "Exposition Park," it was officially designated as Veterans Memorial Park on August 8, 1949. It was 10.95 acres, exclusive of the Library Building (currently the Senior Citizens and Community Center). 

Bond financing of $550,000 guaranteed the construction of the Veterans Memorial Building on the corner. The original plans promised a "recreational building with a stage, restaurant, film museum, playroom, and large gymnasium." The cornerstone was laid on April 15, 1950. 

The Citizen, a local newspaper, reported on April 14, 1950 that the City Fathers were to lay the cornerstone the next day at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. They planned to place a complete history of Culver City and highlights of various civic activities throughout the year in the cornerstone of the $450,000 structure. Anticipated attendance at the event included the Council and the Park Commission. The building offered auditorium seating for 2,000. The tower was referred to as a "tourist tower" of 122 feet, where one could view "the interior of practically every movie set in the city." It promised a lobby with valuable movie studio curios. The article also mentioned that the council in the past year had authorized, by ordinance, slant oil drilling to help defray the costs of the auditorium. The firm of James I. Barnes was named as submitting the low bid of $478,000, complete. 

The municipal pool (aka The Plunge), was tentatively scheduled to open the following month. 

Locals got their first preview of the Veterans Auditorium on February 2, 1951, at the Chamber of Commerce annual Installation. Four hundred civic and community leaders attended the dinner at which Firley Cleveland replaced outgoing president Charles Milliken. The Chamber office was located in the Rotunda Room of the building during its early history. 

Goodwin Knight, Lt. Governor at the time, attended the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Auditorium on March 9, 1951, and the Gold Star Mothers were the guests of honor. The Citizen mentioned the swimming pool as recently completed at that date. In other news articles, it was reported that the armory would be dedicated at about the same time, a facility at the western edge of the park, which was a cooperative effort between the city and state located on city property.  


historical vets memorial building

The often-used Veterans Memorial Building was renovated in 1980. At that time, a number of changes occurred, including the rounding of the Garden Room (formerly the Tower Restaurant) wall for a mural and installation of glass to view the adjacent patio. Most notable from the outside was the placement of a sculpture on the Overland/Culver corner, in full view from the Rotunda Room. It is a stainless steel work by artist Natalie Krol, which was financed mostly by public donations. It was dedicated in 1981. If you look at the reflection pool around Krol's "Filmstrip U.S.A.," you will note the names of families and businesses that contributed to the effort. 



The facility's entry proudly exhibits a number of markers, placed to remember those veterans who fought for our freedom. Rooms within have been renamed to honor our sister cities. There are plans to place a monument to all Veterans on the site. 

In front of the Veterans Memorial Building, the City installed a permanent monument to commemorate the Western Hemisphere Marathon. The start/finish line is noticeable across Overland Avenue. 

This is an excellent opportunity to brainstorm with the students about what you need to be a "city." In the timeline, there is more detailed information, but they should come up with the services and businesses necessary. Some examples might be: city officials, city buildings and the needed departments. Streets have to be planned, paved, and named. Cities need fire and police, paramedics, hospitals, banks, grocery, clothing, and shoe stores. What about homes and their construction? Many things have to be planned for the city to function, including its boundaries.

Culver City history provided by Julie Lugo Cerra, official Culver City Historian.