Culver City Theatre & Meralta Theatre - Culver City



The Culver City Theatre
(c.1917-1923)


9400 Culver Blvd.  | map |
Culver City, CA   90232


The 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 1st 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 our 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 (originally called the Hotel Hunt) on the site, opening in September 1924. The hotel was designed by Claud Beelman, best known for the Eastern Columbia Bldg. on Broadway and the Pacific Electric Building at 6th & Main.



The east facade of the Culver Hotel (1924),
on the site of Culver City's first theatre.
full size view


    Culver City News   

www.culvercitynews.org



A look at the first Culver City theatre.
It's on the site's page about elections.


    Culver City online   

www.culvercity.org


A 1918 look at the first Culver City Theatre --
with city offices above.
The site is now occupied
by the Culver Hotel (1924). The photo comes
from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives.

full size view

The city's website has a page about the history of the
various City Halls.
This photo isn't on it, though. They
once had it on a now vanished "then and now" section.



    Hollywood Photographs   

http://hollywoodphotographs.com


A detail from a 1920 aerial view of Culver City from the
Bruce Torrence Hollywood photographs collection.
 full photo | data page 

The three larger buildings are at Main St. and Washington
 Blvd. (with Culver Blvd. beyond). The tapered one on the
 left is the 1st City Hall/Culver City Theatre building.

Thanks to Japanese film researcher Yasuyasu for the find.



    Sony Pictures Museum    

www.sonypicturesmuseum.com



A look at the side of the first Culver City Theatre.
After 1917 it was also the City Hall on the 2nd floor.  
larger view

The photo used to be on Sony's Culver City History
page but vanished during a website makeover.

A tiny version of the photo appears on
 the City website's City Halls page.


The 2nd City Hall: The City Hall and other offices moved to a location nearby on Van Buren Pl. in 1923 when Harry Culver decided to build his hotel on the site of the first City Hall. This second temporary location from 1923 until 1928 also had the police and fire department in a lower building at the rear. 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. 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.
full size view


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.


Also in Culver City:

See our pages on the Culver / Kirk Douglas Theatre and the Palms Theatre.




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The Meralta Theatre
(1924-1983)


9632 Culver Blvd.    | map |
Culver City, CA   90232

Opened: The Meralta was opened in 1924 by two sisters, Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta.  Will Rogers was the MC for the opening. The feature film from Thomas Ince was "The Galloping Fish."

"Theatres in Los Angeles" reports that an Our Gang comedy was also on the opening bill and at one point the projectionist stopped the film and the cast "leaped through their on-screen likenesses."

This new building, a replacement for the theatre in the old City Hall, had both the theatre as well as adjoining retail shops. Pearl was also in the real estate and insurance businesses, as well as a active on the school board. They lived above the theatre.

By the early 30s, the theatre was being operated by Fox West Coast. In 1943 the Meralta had a fire and screenings were temporarily held in the second floor auditorium of the 1928 vintage City Hall at Culver and Duquesne.

Architect:  The architect of the 1924 building is unknown. Clifford Balch did a remodel in 1935.

Seating: 1000. Perhaps 700 in later years.

Status: Closed in January, 1983.  The building was redeveloped into "Meralta Plaza" in 1983.

More Meralta Theatre information: 

Check out our pages on the East L.A. Meralta and the Downey Meralta.

See the Cinema Treasures page on the Culver City Meralta. Some comments about this theatre are also on the CT page for the East L.A. Meralta.

Wikimapia has a page on the Meralta Plaza that replaced the theatre.

    American Classic Images   

americanclassicimages.com



A 1983 look at the farewell screenings at the
Meralta
captured in a view from American Classic
Images. 
The final shows: "My Favorite Year"
 (1982) and "Honky Tonk Man" (1982).
full size view

Also see:
| January 1983 day view |


    Culver City   

by Julie Lugo Cerra, 2004
Arcadia Publishing | Google Books preview



A c.1957 look at the Meralta on page 30 of "Culver City."
 They're running "Omar Khayyam" and "The Seventh Sin."
 The photo is from the Freeman collection.
Here's a small color version of the photo above.
Thanks to Mark Smith for sending it our way.


    Culver City online   

www.culvercity.org


A look at the Meralta building in the 1970s.The theatre
entrance is off to the left.  Sorry there's no larger view --
it's vanished from the City's website.


    L.A. Public Library Collection   

www.lapl.org



The facade of the Meralta in 1928. We're running
 "The Lovelorn" with Sally O'Niell (1927). 
full size view


Historic Culver City Theatres -- The Meralta

A 1971 view of the marquee from the Library's collection.
full size view


    Mid Century Modern    

... and Historical Los Angeles in the '60s, '70s, and '80s

www.facebook.com/groups/75888708987


A 1963 view from the Culver Hotel looking west along
Culver Blvd. with Washington Blvd. veering off to the right.

The tower of the Culver Theatre is in the middle of the
photo.  The shot was added by Michael Snider to the
Facebook page started by the indefatigable Alison Martino. 
full size view | on the MCM page

City Hall, with the "Culver City" roof sign is visible
on the left side of Culver Blvd. The Meralta Theatre is
hiding just this side of City Hall.


    Theatres in Los Angeles    

by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper,
Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Marc Wanamaker.
Arcadia Publishing, 2008.
www.arcadiapublishing.com | google books preview


A 1924 look at the Meralta from Marc
Wanamaker's Bison Archives appears on
page 97 of "Theatres in Los Angeles."
full size view



The Meralta in 1947 in a Bison Archives
photo
. It got a remodel in 1935 and
a rebuild after a 1943 fire.

full size view


    Vintage Los Angeles    

www.facebook.com/VintageLosAngeles



A look east on Culver Blvd. in the late 50s added by
Cindy Romo-Greene to the great archive on Vintage
Los Angeles. The Meralta is over on the right.
 full size view

The photo also appears on Mid Century Modern as a post
by Michael Snider -- with lots of interesting comments



A detail from the view above showing the Meralta.

The card is also on the website of
the Culver City Historical Society.