This month, the Marina del Rey Historical Society celebrates its 14-year anniversary. Photo credit: Howard Wenger

Marina del Rey Historical Society celebrates 14 years

By Nicole Borgenhicht

September marks the 14-year anniversary of the Marina del Rey Historical Society, which was formed in 2007 by local business owner, Willie Hjorth, and Greg Wenger, a photographer for The Argonaut for 30 years.

Throughout September, the Historical Society will hold an Open House and Volunteer Drive in celebration of its 14th year.

In 2013, the historical society’s gallery opened in Fisherman’s Village and features bound issues dating back to 1971 arranged by Argonaut founder and editor Dave Johnson. Wenger’s son, Howard, continues to preserve local history as president and gallery manager.

“Besides my father’s photographic documentation of the Marina’s history, various business and personal acquaintances would donate photos and documents related to the Marina,” Howard said.

During the recent 15-month closure due to COVID-19, Howard and his staff redesigned the gallery to depict specific time periods. In July, the gallery reopened to allow guests to safely visit and explore the history of Marina del Rey with an informative and educational experience.

“The look we decided on was to present a brief story on the area, beginning in the late 1890s when it was just wetlands, to the 1930s when oil was discovered, to the 1950s and early 1960s from proposals to groundbreaking to dredging of the formation of Marina del Rey, to how it looks today,” Howard said.

The gallery includes photographs of Hoppyland theme park run by Hopalong Cassidy and the Marina damage at a time when there was no breakwater. New projects for the historical society are also underway.

“Photographs and documents have been donated to us from Security Pacific National Bank, Summa Corporation, The County of Los Angeles Departments of Beaches and Harbors, Regional Planning and Fire Department, Greg Wenger Photography and named individuals who have generously donated their archives,” Howard said.

There are also interesting historical artifacts that families and boating aficionados will enjoy. Young people are often enthralled by the sextant, an early form of GPS.

“Our sextant that we have on display is the original version of GPS,” Howard said. “The first sextant was developed in the early 1700s, which is still in use today and is required on every large ship and used by the ship’s navigation officer.”

Other items include an original lantern from the ship Perseus, which moored at Fisherman’s Village for years and eventually sunk.

“There are details and bits of trivia that I never knew about and the more I have learned about the area I have spent the majority of my life in, the more

I feel that the Marina’s heritage needs to be preserved for cultural, educational and community pride for future generations,” Howard said. “Simply put: history preserved – history remembered.”

Marina del Rey Historical Society
13737 Fiji Way, C-3,
Marina del Rey