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Pieces of History Among the Casualties : Landmarks: At least 30 venerable structures in the city were damaged by the earthquake, officials say. Among the hardest hit was the Stimson House.


Pieces of the city's history were among the casualties of the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake as dozens of landmark buildings were reported damaged.

A preliminary list compiled by the city's Cultural Affairs Department found at least 30 such structures were affected, with the damage ranging from a fallen sandstone facade at the Ecung-Ibbetson house on West Adams Boulevard to minor plaster cracks at the Auto Club of Southern California on South Figueroa Street.

Jim Childs, chairman of the Adams-Dockweiler Historic Organizing Committee, estimated as many as 36 homes in that area were damaged by the 6.6 quake and subsequent aftershocks.

"The damages to historical monuments is large," said Childs, whose home sustained only minor damage. "The larger institutions, such as the Auto Club, had minimal damage and they have the resources to deal with it. But the individual homeowners had a lot of damage, and there is no program to help people with historical homes."

Among the hardest hit was the Ezra Stimson House at 2421 S. Figueroa St., where the roof was expected to be removed last week, after bricks fell through it. The chimney, parapets and tower were also damaged, according to Sister Mary Allen of the Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the order that moved into the house last fall.

The Masonic Temple at 4126 S. Figueroa St. sustained major damage and was deemed unsafe by city inspectors. The 70-year-old brick-and-tile building, with elegant blue arches, was cracked throughout. Bricks littered the back alley and front sidewalk.

Lodge members have vowed to rebuild the two-story structure.

"This is a beautiful building. We're not going to lose it," said Albert Barry, deputy grand master of the chapter, St. Anthony's Grand Masonic Lodge.

At the Watts Towers Art Center, a large wall mural was severely damaged, but the towers survived without critical damage.

The four spires atop the First Congregational Church at 6th Street and Commonwealth Avenue shifted on their foundations and had to be removed, said Virginia Somerville, the church's executive assistant.

Shortly after the earthquake, police officers notified the church after noticing that one of the 12-ton spires had shifted. An inspection of the others showed that they also had been damaged. "We've always ridden through earthquakes before," she said. "It must have been the particular angle or thrust of this one."

The church was built in 1932, Somerville said, and the congregation celebrated its 125th anniversary last year.


Times staff writer Robert Lopez and correspondent Jake Doherty contributed to this story.

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