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130-year-old Heritage Square building damaged in car crash

The Palms Depot building is also home to Heritage Square's store and gift shop, which had to close the weekend of the crash.
The Palms Depot building is also home to Heritage Square's store and gift shop, which had to close the weekend of the crash.
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

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Years ago, they moved a nearly 130-year-old train station to L.A.'s Heritage Square to save it from the wrecking ball. But early on Sunday, April 6, somebody ran into it with their car. Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson went to the scene and talked with Jessica Rivas, Heritage Square's Manager of Education.

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In the wee hours that Sunday morning, a man drove his compact Volkswagen through the museum's wrought iron gate—ripping  half of it from its hinges. The gate landed about five feet from the entrance, then the car plowed into the Palms Depot building, which houses Heritage Square's gift shop and store.

Rivas said she didn't find out until the next morning, right before the museum opened.

"It was pretty shocking," said Rivas. "My store manager called me up and was very, very distraught. She was having a hard time putting her words together. I was trying to get her to calm down."

Despite the damage, the staff decided to keep the museum open. Later that day, the vehicle's driver returned to the scene to offer his apologies. "It was an interesting visit," she said. "We're grateful he came by and at least apologized. But it definitely is a small consolation to this whole thing."

Rivas said that while she hopes the historic wrought iron gate can be repaired, the historical elements inside the Palms Depot building will take a lot more work. A desk was nearly destroyed, antique items shattered and the store's windows shattered. "Our on-hand restoration guys says that not even historic window makers make windows of this size anymore. So we're talking a complete custom job just for the windows alone."

Along with attracting tourists and locals alike, Heritage Square also serves as Hollywood's go-to set for Victorian houses. You might have seen some of the Square's houses in Disney's "Saving Mr Banks."  

Rivas said Heritage Square doesn't yet know how much all that will cost, but the museum will likely end up paying for some of the repairs out of pocket. People interested in helping out can donate through their website

"One of the saddest parts is that this actually was just painted, about two weeks ago," said Rivas. "We had just restored this front portion, and now it's all broken."