Culver City: The Heart of Screenland

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The Hobbit House on Dunn Drive, just south of Venice Boulevard, in Culver City, is a unique piece of local architectural history. Crafted and created by Lawrence Joseph, a former Walt Disney artist, The Hobbit House is located right around the corner of Sony Studios. This Storybook Style Designer home, officially known as the Lawrence and Martha Joseph Residence and Apartments Historic-Cultural Monument No. 624, was built from 1946 to 1970.

I first stumbled upon the Hobbit House back in 2005, when my husband told me there was an urban pond located at a residence near his place of employment, where an abundance of red eared sliders (water turtles) lived. I used to have two of these red eared sliders as household pets, but a recent water tank accident, causing thousands of dollars in water damage, forced our landlord to evict my beloved turtles. Luckily, we found this turtle sanctuary an hour away from the City, so my Rickey and Lucy are now with their kind, floating about and partying in the huge pond full of turtles. Since my husband knew how much I loved these turtles, over the years, he would surprise me by planning a “drive-by” event to the Hobbit House whenever we were in Culver City running weekend errands. We would do this rather than take the long drive up north to the West Valley to visit our original turtles because the sanctuary has since become a popular wedding venue (where public access is limited to special events).

Fast forward to 2015, when my kids were on Spring Break and wanted to learn more about my turtles. Yes, I immediately made an impromptu trip for us to visit Culver City.

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LA Times reported back in 2005 that there are actually more of these Storybook Houses, which are “an outgrowth of the blurred line of fantasy and reality that is particular to Los Angeles,” says Trudi Sandmeier, a preservationist at the Los Angeles Conservancy. Now we have something to look forward to the next time we find ourselves in search of “The Witch’s House” in Beverly Hills.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun for the kids and I to meander through the neighboring Downtown Culver City to visit the oldie-but-goodie local cafe my husband and I used to frequent before we had children.

On the way there, we noticed that there was a film production crew gathered on Main Street. Filming in broad daylight? Only in L.A., urrr, I mean, in Culver City, the Heart of Screenland ,where The Culver Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment now reside (where the former façade of Gone with the Wind’s “Tara” once stood, where Ince Studio (1918-1925), De Mille Studios (1925–28), Pathe and RKO-Pathe Studios (1928–35), Selznick International Pictures (1935–56), Desilu-Culver Studios (1956–70), Culver City Studios (1970–77) and Laird International Studios (1977–86) once stood). Check out “40 Acres” to learn more about Culver City’s vast history in filmmaking.

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We finally made it to Grand Casino Bakery & Cafe, a cool Argentinian establishment, also on Culver City’s Main Street. The ambiance was quite rustic, with the decor sprinkled in anything Argentinian. The wait staff is always friendly and attentive, so the overall experience is just so pleasant. I loved taking the kids here because it’s such a family friendly restaurant. The food is delicious, the menu has something for everyone, the outdoor cafe was quite comfortable and the restaurant itself is very spacious.

Did I mention that the pastries are not only beautiful and tasty, but are quite affordable? The cafe sells fresh baguettes, fritters, cakes and cookies, as well as ethnic flaky pastries sprinkled with powdered sugar and generously stuffed with Argentinian’s well known treat, dulce de leche. It’s a good place on the Westside to purchase reasonably priced sweets. I’ll be back again soon.

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Hobbit House
3819 Dunn Drive
Culver City, CA 90232


Grand Casino Bakery & Cafe
3826 Main Street
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 202-6969

© Copyright 2012-2016 by Deborah Kuzma and All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah Kuzma and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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