Marie Healy interviews Culver Hotel General Manager Seth Horowitz
Marie: You are the new GM of The Culver Hotel- how long have you been here?Seth: Well, I can’t be new anymore because I’m here well over 6 months. The new owners took over the hotel in 2006, and it’s taken a few years to do the renovations. They finished the renovations at the end of last year. So I’m the new general manager with a new property to present to the community.
Marie: I love the historical beginnings of this hotel, starting with the vision of Harry Culver.
Seth: Yes, 1917 he established the city and 1924 he opened this hotel, so it took a few years to build. It was the skyscraper of the West Side!
Marie: Isn’t that funny – it’s only 6 floors. The wedge shape reminds me of the flatiron building in NYC.
Seth: That’s exactly what it is- that was the objective. They built on what they had when streets came to a corner. This hotel was built on a triangle of land with roads on all sides.
Marie: So this wasn’t necessarily a chosen design element.
Seth: But he wanted his office at the hotel to be at the crossroad overlooking where Culver & Washington Blvds intersect. He made use of the fact that it was a flatiron.
Marie: Culver Studios is just across the way. Is there truth to the rumor of an underground tunnel that connected the hotel to the studio?
Seth: They thought it was a myth because no one could confirm and there were no plans showing it until the city started to do this outside plaza and one of the workmen fell into the tunnel. That’s how they confirmed there was a tunnel that went from the hotel to the studio.
Marie: Is the tunnel still there?
Seth: No, it was filled up for safety reasons.
Marie: Was the tunnel in use when the Wizard of Oz was being filmed? I heard there were some interesting guests staying here.
Seth: The hotel is most famous for the fact that the Munchkins did stay here. And they stayed three to a bed, and they misbehaved! We have a tremendous amount of people who remember the Wizard of Oz and the Munchkins and the Culver Hotel- it’s a great combination. Also, John Wayne won the hotel in a card game. After a couple years he donated it the YMCA. There have been many, many stars that have stayed in the hotel during the years of Culver Studio and MGM in its many variations. This was the start of screenland. Before Hollywood, this is where it was all happening.
Marie: I read that Harry Culver looked at this area as the mid point between the beach communities and downtown LA where the original theaters were built.
Seth: Yes and he brought them here. Some of the Laurel & Hardy movies were made here. This building was filmed many, many times because it was the up and down building at that time. The production that is filming here today- the front of the hotel is going to be a London street, the 3rd fl is going to be a Barcelona apt, the outside over here will be a Paris café. So in one day, England, Spain and France will be created on property.
Marie: Fantastic. That shows the variety of looks one historical location can have, which is a great selling point for this property. Speaking of old historical properties, like the original Huntington hotel in Pasadena, there have been stories of ‘guests’ still walking the floors at night.
Seth: Absolutely, Harry’s here and he is quite happy with what we’ve done. So it’s not a scary situation, it’s a friendly situation.
Marie: I love happy haunted stories! Well, I must say we are very excited to have our annual meeting and elections here. The Grand Lobby is gorgeous and I know our members will enjoy taking in its classic ambiance. The restoration is truly fabulous. Thank you for sharing your time and these stories with me. See you on Saturday May 19th!