Goldwyn Terrace

If you've ever seen the play or movie Ragtime you might remember the scene where Tateh, at that point just a pushcart vendor, is passing through Ellis Island.  Later in the story it turns out he has become a Hollywood studio mogul.  If you're like me you might have dismissed that story as unlikely--if you didn't know that this accurately describes the life of one Shmuel Goldwiszc, better known as Samuel Goldwyn, the "G" in MGM.  And across Washington Boulevard from the current Sony Pictures, which used to be MGM, begins a short, peculiar street that has been christened Goldwyn Terrace in his honor. 

Goldwyn Terrace: This Way

Some distance off to the right, on Washington Boulevard is the Thalberg Building, named for legendary MGM producer Irving Thalberg, who was responsible for bringing The Marx Brothers to MGM, among other things.  

Now if we all turn to the left, we can look up Goldwyn Terrace towards Venice Boulevard.

Looking up Goldwyn Terrace, east side
This street is unusual in a number of ways.  For one thing,  streets  in L.A. tend to be many miles long.  Sunset Boulevard runs from Pacific Palisades to Whittier, or it used to, until the part in downtown L.A. was renamed in honor of Cesar Chavez.  Other streets, like Exposition Boulevard, run for a mile or so, then disappear only to start again a mile or two further on.  The same thing is seen in small, mostly residential streets.  But with Goldwyn Terrace, this one short block is all there is.  It's not only a street, but a specific location.  

The other unusual thing is the houses.  Except for a couple of modern rebuilds, they were all built around 1923 - 1925, and are among the smallest detached houses you'll see anywhere.  Contemporary tastes and standards dictate larger floor plans, and those of today's buyers for whom 1100 square feet are sufficient generally prefer condominiums.   Moreover, builders of small houses today usually cut as many corners as possible in order to achieve the lowest possible price, and the houses on a given street in a given development are usually very similar to each other.  Corner-cutting usually means small windows along with an overall lack of architectural or even decorative touches, but that's not the case with these houses.  

Within this short street is a degree of variety you don't see anywhere else.   A flat-top Spanish Mediterranean might stand...

Flat-top Mediterranean
cheek-by-jowl with a tiny version of a colonial that powerfully reminds us of 1960s-era situation comedies.  We can almost imagine  that this was where My Three Sons began, at a point when there was still only one son and he was very small.

and next to the colonial might be a relatively unadorned stuccoed dwelling straight out of the 1950s.  Hey look: it's for sale!

On The Market

Trust me on this, though,  you don't want to know the price because it would only break your heart.  There are also one or two perfectly preserved 1920's wooden bungalows, complete with tiny porches and large front windows.


Next we have another Mediterranean:

The world would be a better place if more small houses looked like this.  

We'll conclude our visit to Goldwyn Terrace with a view of a couple more frame houses.


  1. I grew up in the house to the right, third-to-last photo. I could tell you some stories about this block, 80s to early '90s. Thanks for paying tribute to my old street!

    1. What kind of people used to live there? Were they mostly connected with the industry in some way or other?

      I worked at the studio, as an overhead employee, for about one year from 1988-9; it was Lorimar then. But I didn't live in the neighborhood.

  2. Aimless- to my knowledge, no one who lived on the block was connected with the industry. My parents (both employed by Brotman Medical Center nearby) bought the house in '79, and we moved out in '94.

    At that time, the neighborhood was working- to middle-class. It was very multicultural -- Hispanic, Filipino, and white families, some old-timers. I’m doing a quick survey/character study, and I realize the neighborhood profile was kind of sitcom in its variety. In one house there was a really sweet middle-aged man who cared for stray cats and had kind of a junk collection in his yard; there was an older woman (beloved Mrs. Jones!) who had lived in her home for decades, if I remember correctly (the aforementioned handyman/cat caretaker checked in on her a lot, and I remember reading to her after school a few times). There was a family of six that had recently immigrated from Mexico, and shared a cramped one-bedroom house as they made the transition. Our next-door neighbors, an elderly brother and sister (then just the sister) had lived there their entire lives. There was a duplex at Goldwyn Terrace and Venice Blvd where there seemed to be an impromptu mini flea market every weekend in the front yard. So a lot of variety, more than a pinch of eccentricity.

    The craziest thing to me is in the third photo from the bottom, the two-story house to the left. I was friends with the girl who lived there; her parents had immigrated from Mexico before she was born. That house used to be squat, single-story and kind of Spanish mission-style. The total overhaul surprised me when I visited the neighborhood again maybe 10 years later!

    (Now I’m on a Trulia tear to see who’s moved out and who’s still around. I cannot believe the prices on these houses!)

    I remember that in the early ‘90s, as people started renting out their homes, younger professionals were moving into the neighborhood — probably the start of a trend.

    You’re right in calling it a short, peculiar street (I say fondly). My understanding is that a lot of these bungalows were used in the way studios use trailers now. Our old house was built in 1923, and there was a rumor it housed Laurel and/or Hardy (or maybe that was the house next door…).

    It’s funny to think of how the studio was right there, but it didn’t have a huge bearing on our day-to-day. I do remember once, maybe in ’89 or so, they closed our block on a Friday evening. Tony Danza was directing Ed O’Neill in a made-for-TV movie called “Regarding Jenny.” There was a scene where O’Neill was knocking on the door of the house in the last photo above (it had a more conventional paint job at the time). They let us kids crowd around and watch the filming.

    Around the mid-90s, they started trying to revitalize the historic “downtown” Culver City as well. There was a cool little diner called Sam & Woody’s (now S&W Country Diner) and my parents and I would go there about every weekend for breakfast. There were some fun (b-list) celebrity sightings. More quaint/typical Hollywood was the hardware store (can’t remember the name). I’d go there occasionally with my dad, and he was tickled to realize that one of employees had been in ‘Cannery Row’ (the ’82 Nick Nolte flick). I would know the actor if I saw him, but can’t quite recall his name/role…anyway, the guy had a bit part in what was a beloved film in our family, and my dad was pretty effusive in his praise.

    I didn't remember the studio ever being Lorimar (not that I was really keeping track at the time). How funny! It did seem to change hands pretty frequently…I also seem to remember it being Columbia TriStar for a minute, before it became Sony.

    Let me know if you have any more questions!

    Also worth checking out is this house a couple blocks over. It was a delight to walk past as a kid, because it was so fairytale — ponds in the front yard!


    1. I'm pretty sure the junk collection is still there.

      I lived for about six months on Irving Place, after moving in with my future wife, and recall how moribund the neighborhood was back then. There was the Balian Market, the hardware store, and the Italian restaurant, but also the empty and neglected Culver Hotel. In a sense the revitalization has been successful in that it has increased traffic and commercial activity in the area, and no longer does the neighborhood close down at 9PM. Yet the price has been the loss of more humdrum businesses like the HW and grocery stores, which supplied the basic needs of daily life. The HW store was "True Value"--long gone of course, but Laurel and Hardy still hold forth on the west wall. I suppose you could call it gentrification, but I loved the fact that there were now a couple of places in the neighborhood to have coffee. Even if one of them was a Starbucks, that was probably the best one in the area. Years after I first lived there, we moved near Overland and Palms for five years, and I used to walk down to DTCC quite often.

      I think the Lorimar period was from about early 1988 to late 1989. Towards the end of that time it was acquired by Warner Brothers, and I wrote and ran the code that was used to merge Lorimar's production budget data with Warner Brothers. I truly enjoyed working there and would have stayed on, but my job was going to be moved to Burbank and I didn't want the commute.

      If you're interested in the neighborhood I have another post on here about the Museum of Jurassic Technology. The pictures of butterfly-wing scale nanomosaics were taken by holding up a 5 Mpx camera lens of a smart phone against the peepholes in the exhibit.