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Opened: Around 1917. It was running until 1923. This first theatre in Culver City was in the same building as the city's first City Hall -- on Main St. at Culver Blvd. The building, using a Main St. address, had a theatre on the first floor and office space above. In 1917 the city rented the second floor for $15 a month as the City Hall.
The 1918 photo comes from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives. It had appeared on a now-vanished "then and now" section of the Culver City website. The city's website does have a page about the history of the various City Halls. This photo isn't on it, though.
An entrance view of the Culver City Theatre. It's on "Elections Helped Shape Culver City," a page on the Culver City News website.
A side view of the theatre building. The photo used to be on the Culver City History page of the Sony Pictures Museum but vanished during a website makeover. A tiny version of the photo appears on the City website's City Halls page.
Thanks to the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection for this 1920 aerial view of Culver City. That's the Ince studio over on the right. We're looking northwest with Main St. running upwards from the cluster of the three larger buildings in the center of the photo.
A detail from the Bruce Torrence photo. The three larger buildings in the center are at Main St. and Washington Blvd. with Culver Blvd. running left to right beyond them. The tapered one on the left is the 1st City Hall/Culver City Theatre building. The bottom of the three is on Van Buren Pl. -- a lower building was constructed just this side of it for the 2nd City Hall. Thanks to Japanese film researcher Yasuyasu for finding the photo in the collection.
The Culver City Theatre in the Movies: We go all over the place in Harold Lloyd's "Girl Shy" (Pathe, September 1924). The 80 minute film, directed by Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, also features Jobyna Ralston and Richard Daniels.
In this "Girl Shy" shot we're looking north on Van Buren Pl. toward Washington Blvd. Straight ahead is the house left side of the 1st Culver City theatre -- in the building that had 2nd floor offices used as the 1st City Hall. Here they've already moved out -- the 2nd City Hall location is seen on the right.
See the Theatres In Movies post about "Girl Shy" for two aerial views that show the relationship of the buildings we see in the screenshot above.
Thanks to Japanese film investigator Yasuyasu for his "Girl Shy" research and sending this screenshot (and aerial views) our way. He's involved with a website, Our Gang 1922-28, working to identify Culver City locations for some of the early silent Our Gang comedies.
Status: The building was demolished when Harry Culver decided to construct the Culver Hotel on the site. The hotel, originally called the Hotel Hunt, opened in September 1924. It was designed by Claud Beelman, best known for the Eastern Columbia Bldg. on Broadway and the Pacific Electric Building at 6th & Main.
The theatre had been operated by two sisters, Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta. They opened the Meralta Theatre nearby in 1924 as a replacement.
The east facade of the Culver Hotel (1924), built on the site of Culver City's first theatre. Photo: Bill Counter - 2011
The 2nd City Hall: The City Hall and other offices moved to the location nearby on Van Buren Pl. in 1923 when Harry Culver decided to build his hotel. This second temporary location from 1923 until 1928 also housed the police and fire department. There was no theatre space.
The 3rd City Hall: In 1928 a new City Hall opened at Culver and Duquesne. The second floor auditorium was used in 1943 for film showings following a fire at the Meralta Theatre. The booth they installed in the auditorium remained until the building was demolished (for yet another City Hall) in 1995.
All that's left of the 1928 City Hall at Culver & Duquesne. If you were to turn around 180 degrees, you'd be looking at the back of the Culver Theatre.
More on Culver City:
Wandering in L.A. has a nice post on the Culver Hotel. USC Archives has a great 1929 view of Culver Blvd. just east of the Culver Hotel. Photos of Los Angeles has a similar view from the 50s.
The Culver City Historical Society has a website to browse. See the Wikipedia article on Culver City for a fine history. Sony Pictures has a page on Culver City history. The Culver Hotel also has a history page on their site.
Arcadia Publishing has two wonderful titles: "Movie Studios of Culver City" by Marc Wanamaker and "Culver City" by Julie Lugo Cerra.
Don't miss the KCET article by Nathan Masters "Culver City: From Barley Fields to the Heart of Screenland."
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