(photo by Caty Jakubowski)
After Eugene and Kitty Donovan purchased the land at 9355 Culver Boulevard, they chose the architectural firm of Orville E. Clark to design the Citizen Building, with Mrs. Donovan's input. Natives of San Francisco, the Donovans, survived the great earthquake and fire of 1906, and built the Citizen to San Francisco's earthquake building codes since Southern California had yet to adopt guidelines. In 1928, the firm of O'Hanlon and Flansburg began construction on the Citizen. Eugene Donovan's final instructions before work began were reportedly "wherever possible, all materials, supplies and labor will be obtained from local sources in Culver City."
Construction was complete in 1929 at a cost of $80,000, which included furnishings. The News Printing Company that had been established in 1923 under the management of Eugene Donovan's son, Roy E., and the Western Citizen, founded by Eugene Donovan, were consolidated into the Citizen Publishers and Printers in this new building. Before, the Donovan's business had been located across the street, and initially, around the corner on Bagley.
The "new" 20-page edition of The Citizen was printed December 6, 1929, in its all-new modern plant. The newspaper was "dedicated in perpetuity to the service of the people that no good cause shall lack a champion and that evil shall not thrive unopposed". On January 1, 1930, the Donovans hosted a public opening for more than 2,000 guests in the Citizen's new home.
The Donovans' dream of a completely self-contained, successful hometown newspaper, and commercial printing plant, became a reality in seven short years. Their accounts included Thomas Ince, Hal Roach, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Selznick, R.K.O. Pathe and DeMille Studios.
The award-winning Citizen was a dynamic force in the development of the community, better government, business, recreational facilities, adequate streets, lighting and other projects that factor into an ideal modern community. Donovan championed battles for adequate bus transportation, the modernization and improvement of the Fire and Police Departments, beneficial zoning regulations and was an advocate for the Chamber of Commerce. It recorded Culver City's history. In 1934, before the Hollywood and Culver City Chambers of Commerce 'buried the hatchet', Donovan ran a contest to re-name Culver City, since movie credits at that time did not reflect "Made in Culver City." Entries for the $10 prize included names like "Cinema City" and "Filmville." Needless to say, the city retained its Culver City name.
Eugene Donovan learned printing and publishing in his native San Francisco. He was the managing editor of the Reno Gazette and was affiliated at various times with the Call, Examiner and other San Francisco dailies before he moved to Southern California. Before he established his own newspaper in Culver City, Donovan was the publisher and managing editor of the Culver City Daily News.
Eugene and Catherine Donovan both died in 1948, survived by their son and grandson. The Citizen building remained a family-owned business with grandson Roy L. Donovan still active in the community until its sale in the late 1990s, when it was purchased by Josetta Sbeglia, whose family came from the east with a history of historic renovation.
The Citizen building was marked by the Culver City Historical Society as Historic Site Number 4 in 1984. In 1987, it became the first structure in Culver City to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also has Landmark Status by action of the City Council.
The Citizen Building is known for its fusion of Beaux Arts classical elements and Art Deco. Other examples of this type architecture in the Downtown area, like the 1928 City Hall and Fire Station No. 1, were demolished.