The Culver Hotel celebrates 90 years with a 1924-style
By Michael Aushenker
Stand at the intersection of Washington and Culver boulevards and behold the juncture “where all roads lead to Culver City.”
“That was Harry Culver’s way of selling real estate,” said Seth Horowitz, general manager of the Culver Hotel, still standing tall in the heart of Culver City after nine decades.
The venerable hospitality and dining institution celebrates its 90th anniversary on Saturday with its first-ever Prohibition Ball, a period party with live bands positioned in the lobby, the second floor’s Parisian Room bar and the street-side courtyard to provide an upbeat soundtrack for swing dancing.
Guests must dress in dapper and flapper period attire, said Horowitz, as they explore each room offering a different libation: the Selvarey Cacao rum, orange curacao, sweet vermouth and grenadine-informed La Florida; the Phony Negroni, crafted with Ketel One Oranje, Aperol, Carpano Antica and an orange twist; and Dorothy’s Daiquiri, a spin on Ernest Hemingway’s favorite sip.
Exclusive for the occasion, hotel chef Samuel Vasquez has crafted crab-stuffed mushrooms, miniature suckling pig tacos, breast of chicken à la rose, spring petite lamb chasseur and lobster à la Newburg.
As the clock strikes 12, guests can enjoy modern midnight snacks such as dry-age beef and lamb sliders accompanied by sweet-potato or truffle fries.
The story of the Culver Hotel, Horowitz said, “is very much connected to the city of Culver City,” which celebrates its centennial in 2017. In fact, the Culver’s Prohibition Ball is one of several events leading up to that citywide celebration three years from now.
Like a speakeasy couple doing the Jitterbug, residential and commercial concerns have gone hand in hand since Culver City’s beginnings.
“When Harry Culver started the city, he saw a clear marriage between the residents and the businesses,” Horowitz said.
With the help of filmmaker Thomas Ince, Metro Goldwyn Mayer established its lot in town. Thanks to its proximity to MGM Studios (today, the Sony Pictures lot), the Culver’s history is intrinsically tied to MGM’s and the hotel housed the actors who portrayed the Munchkins in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz.” Sleeping three to a bed, “the Munchkins worked hard in the day and partied at night,” Horowitz said, adding that the Prohibition Ball event will pay homage to the actors.
Culver City was also home to Hal Roach Studios (where Little Rascals and Laurel & Hardy shorts were shot), Desilu Studios (Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s company) and RKO Studios (producers of “King Kong” in 1933).
Downtown Culver City went through revitalization in the 1990s, and less than a decade ago the Mallick family, owners of Hotel Beverly Terrace, purchased the Culver Hotel and completed renovations in 2011 that created a total of 46 rooms, including two suites and four junior suites.
Horowitz is very much looking forward to seeing the Culver Hotel transported back in time. He believes his establishment is a cut above the rest.
“We’re very proud of it,” he said, adding that the Prohibition Ball is the hotel’s way of “saying thank you to the community.”
The Prohibition Ball runs from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday at the Culver Hotel, 9400 Culver Blvd., Culver City. Tickets are $90. Call (310) 558-9400 or visit theprohibitionball.com .