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Hearts of L.A. / How the Quake Rocked Our Spirits and Changed Our Lives : COPING WITH CHAOS : 'Friends have called in tears . . . about the pharmacy.'

January 30, 1994|Lowell (Pat) Patton | Patton, 66, is the owner of a building at 734 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, that was condemned after the earthquake. Downstairs is Patton's Pharmacy, which is now operated by another pharmacist; upstairs are six rent-controlled apartments. Patton has owned the 63-year-old building for about 30 years.

My initial response when I got to the building about 30 minutes after the quake was, "Thank God no one was hurt in the building." We were still having aftershocks, and I just felt that we should not be near the building. I wanted to make sure that everybody had been evacuated. I wasn't sure where they all went, but later in the day I made contact with some of them and found they were OK.

Then I wondered what I was going to do with the building. Was I going to have to take it down and start from the beginning?

You can see some huge cracks in the building on the west side. There are three or four rows of bricks that actually were shaken out of the building. I'd say there's been a movement of approximately six to eight inches; the building has moved on the corners at the top of the second story.

I'm still getting calls about the pharmacy a week and a half after the quake. Old friends have called in tears, crying about the pharmacy. We were allowed under security to go into the pharmacy to secure the computer and all the backup tapes for our charges and our prescription files. We have relocated the pharmacy to 20th and Arizona, and our calls are going there.

All the prescriptions are being filled there, tracked by computers, and we're totally up and running with all our documentation. I think we had somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 charge accounts here at the store. They were all neighborhood people who had sustained the pharmacy.

I've always been proud of this building. We remodeled it after we bought it, and the architect won a city beautification award when it was finished. It's an early California structure with brick and some stucco. It's sort of been a landmark as far as pharmacy services here in our community. I have other properties in Santa Monica, and my home is here. None of them suffered any major damage.

In the early spring, we had a complete seismic retrofitting of this building, and you can see the retrofitting plates on the roof level and on the level between the first and second floors. Those go all the way through the building and connect to the front of the building. The same way going laterally on each side. So each side, four sides, are covered with this retrofitting. Had it not been for having that work done, I believe the damage would have been much worse.

I really don't know what the fate of the building will be. There is a great possibility it will have to be demolished. I would feel sad at that.

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