AKA: Crocker Citizens National Bank Building, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA; Last Bookstore, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - banks (buildings); built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Parkinson and Bergstrom, Architects (firm); George Edwin Bergstrom (architect); John Parkinson (architect)

Dates: constructed 1914-1915

12 stories

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453 South Spring Street
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 90013

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The Citizens Bank Building stood on the northwest corner of 5th and Spring Streets.


The Citizens National Bank Building stood at 453 South Spring Street in 1924. The partnership of Parkinson and Bergstrom, which had dissolved by 1915, designed the facility.

Building History

The Los Angeles Times said of the Citizens' National Bank Building #2 as it was being constructed: "Magnificent financial and office structure as it will appear when completed. The steel skeleton of this great $1,000,000 block at the northwest corner of Fifth and Spring streets is now being clothed with terra cotta, tile and brick. Parkinson & Bergstrom are the architects." (See "Revised design for Citizen's National Bank Building," Los Angeles Times, 09/13/1914, pt. V, p. 1.)

Originally, the Citizens' National Bank Building was to have had a completion date in early 1916, but efforts to entice renters to leave before expiration of their leases occurred in mid-1914. The architect, general contractor and all sub-contractors worked in great haste to build the 12-story highrise, spurred on by contractural penalties of $400 per day if deadlines were not met. The last demolitions of the "antiquated" brick buildings existing on the bank building's site occurred on 06/7-8/1914, and the digging of foundations and shoring them up started almost immediately thereafter. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Parkinson & Bergstrom, the architects, were instructed to at once get in all bids for the work and to make no awards excepting to such concerns as would sign the forfeiture agreements guaranteeing speed in the carrying out of contracts." (See "Erected in Record Time," Los Angeles Times, 11/22/1914, pt. VI, p. 1.)

The same Times article briefly described the new building, rapidly being completed: "The building has a frontage of 115 feet on Spring street and of 155 feet on Fifth. In the center is a court 40x60 feet in size. The first story and part of the basement will be occupied by the Citizens' National Bank, the heating and power facilities being in a sub-basement. The eleven stories above the ground story will be given over to offices." (See "Erected in Record Time," Los Angeles Times, 11/22/1914, pt. VI, p. 1.)

Building Notes

The Germain Lumber Company had its offices in the Citizens National Bank Building #2 in Los Angeles, in 1924. (See Los Angeles, City Directory, 1924, p. 1012.) Leo J. Germain served as its president at this time, with Edward Germain, its secretary.

The noted architect George Edwin Bergstrom (1876-1955) maintained an office in the Citizens Bank Building c. 1915-1921, at least.

In 2009, a nightclub called the "Crocker Club" operated in the Citizens National Bank Building. (See Amter, Charles, "A vault onto scene," Los Angeles Times, 01/23/2009, p. E25.)

In 12/2009, the Last Bookstore opened in space within the former Citizens National Bank Building. A New York Times writer, Reif Larsen, described the Last Bookstore in 2018: "Amid this urban rejuvenation you will find the Last Bookstore, one of the world's best. In the past, Los Angeles had developed an unfair reputation for being anti-intellectual. In reality, the city is a vibrant, artistic, literary place; perhaps it is the sprawl that makes its various beacons of culture feel like stars in a distant constellation. The list of writers who have tried to capture the city's bequiling characteristic is long and varied: Raymond Chandler, Joan Didion, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nathaniel West, Charles Bukowski, Eve Babitz. Their ghosts haunt the Last Bookstore. When you enter, you are asked to hand over your backpack. This is ostensibly to prevent shoplifting but it felt more symbolic, as though you must leave any remnant of the outside world behind. As soon as you pass through the front door, it is as if you have entered a different era, before the death of our collective attention. The Last Bookstore is truly a refuge, books form walls and windows, archways, tumble off shelves. The place feels like a living, breathing being, with various catacombs and vauts and catwalks that disobey the laws of gravity. I spent all afternoon there, stumbling upon books that I never knew I was missing." (See Reif Larsen, "L.A. Reverential: A City's Chill Spots," New York Times, Travel Section, 07/29/2018, p. 4.)

PCAD id: 21208