Friday, May 11, 2018

Then and Now

I drive through downtown Culver City all the time. During rush hour, the area is a traffic nightmare. The configuration of the streets and how they cross each other, sometimes diagonally, can make for many a traffic headache. This is one challenged "grid." You may think that you're heading west on Washington Boulevard, then all of a sudden you're on Culver Boulevard. The traffic signals are confusing too. During non-traffic times, you can wheel around the lanes and correct your direction. This area is way more conducive to walking than driving.
When I drive past the Meralta Office Plaza on Culver Boulevard, I'm reminded of the old Meralta Theater that once stood there. In my day, the Meralta was a smaller movie theater that showed second-run movies, often for a budget price. I remember going there a lot in the 1970s and 80s.
Meralta Theater, 1971
The original Meralta was built in 1924 at 9632 Culver Blvd. by two ladies, Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta. Their combined last names formed the name of the theater. Earlier, they had owned the Meralta Theater in Downey. Pearl sold real estate and later insurance in Culver City. Laura was a seamstress at the movie studios. A fire during World War II forced the theater to be closed until it could be rebuilt. Pearl and Laura lived in a apartment above the theater. They had a room in their apartment with a large one-way mirror plate glass window that looked straight at the movie screen.
Laura Peralta and Pearl Merrill, after the Meralta Theater had been rebuilt
I'm not sure when Laura and Pearl sold the theater, but it continued into the 1980s under other management. In 1983 the entire building, including the theater and businesses on either side of the theater was torn down. This was the beginning of the revitalization of downtown Culver City.
The Meralta Theater, 1928
The last days of The Meralta, 1983
In the late 1980s I went to an income tax service in the Meralta Office Plaza. The updated, 1980's Spanish Revival architectural style of the Plaza was never a favorite of mine. The Plaza is still there, now part of the very successful DTCC area.
Meralta Office Plaza, 2017
I am glad that the City of Culver City has preserved and restored many of it's historic downtown buildings. All is not lost.  

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