Marilyn Cadenbach // Helms Bakery

Helms BuildingWAH

Two years ago, when we moved the agency from our loft in Venice, California, we never thought we could call Culver City home. Despite moving to one of Eric Owen Moss’ beautiful, modern, industrial buildings in one of Los Angeles’ most creative areas, The Hayden Tract, Culver City was not Venice… the city that opened its arms and took us in on a little street called Abbot Kinney nine years ago.

Recently the opportunity arose to move back to Venice. Yoga and surf in the morning, Gjelina for lunch, and a short beach cruiser ride home in the evening. Perfect, right? That’s what we thought. But something kept pulling us back East. No… not the East Coast where we first set up shop in Boston, but “L.A. East,” East of the 405. We never imagined that East of Lincoln would appeal, but there we were considering staying East of the 405.  Maybe the bohemian feel of Venice had been lost. The AK we knew and loved had changed.  Food trucks had taken over on First Fridays, and that was prior to GQ naming Abbot Kinney the ‘coolest block in America‘ back in 2012.  Now our beloved block is giving rise to new chain stores on a weekly basis, pushing out many of our favorite local shop and restaurant owners. Bearded hipsters are a dime a dozen, as are the “Hollywood types” who don’t appear to have any interest in the real Venice vibe. What’s an agency to do when the love of Venice is overshadowed by an influx of foreigners? With Silver Lake taking the top spot on Forbes‘ inaugural list of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods, heading too far East was out of the question. Waxed mustaches, coffee aficionados, and fixed gear bikes were definitely low on our list of priorities! Culver City seemed to be calling us.

In 1931 Paul Helms opened The Helms Bakery between Washington and Venice Boulevards in Culver City.  With the “Delivered Fresh to Your Door” tagline, Helms Bakery products were delivered all over Los Angeles, fresh and still warm, from the back of the Helms Bakery Coaches . Being the entrepreneur that he was, Mr. Helms scored an exclusive contract to supply bread to the Olympic Village in Baldwin Hills during the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and Helms Bakery quickly became the “Olympic Games Bakers – Choice of Champions.” Paul Helms furthered his role in the Culver City community by supplying baked goods to productions such as the Wizard of Oz, Little Rascals, and Desilu Productions (I Love Lucy, Star Trek, and The Untouchables). Helms Bakery bread even became the “first bread on the moon,” making the trip with the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969. A study of his legacy would show that Paul Helms was at the forefront of the concepts of marketing and branding long before those buzz words ever entered our vocabulary.

It’s no wonder that when we first stepped into Mr. Helms’ private office, we fell in love. We were awestruck and honored by the opportunity to take up residence in such a beautiful space. The original architectural details and fixtures, the available light, the community, and the history… it was everything we had hoped to find. Today everyone loves Helms for H.D. Buttercup, Lukshon, Arcana Books, and Father’s Office… but the true magic is on the inside, with the history of the space and the people who inhabit it. We’d like to tip our hat to Wally Marks, Sr., Wally Marks, Jr. and Wally Marks III for making the Helms Bakery District what it is today.  It is not just Culver City, it is Los Angeles. In a city where architectural conservation and preservation is an uphill battle, the Marks family has gone to great lengths to preserve and restore the Helms Bakery complex and its history, and for that we are very grateful.  Please come by, grab a dog at Let’s Be Frank or some pasta at Bucato. You’ll find us in the corner office on the third floor, overlooking downtown Los Angeles, the San Juan Mountains and the Hollywood sign.  We feel right at home here in Culver City, and we’d love to show you around….

Historical photos courtesy of Walter N. Marks Realty.  Contemporary photos courtesy of Michael D. Wilkerson

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See full post here: Marilyn Cadenbach Blog2013-09-11.