Friday 9 November 2012

New life for old corner drugstore

Vintage pharmacy is reborn at Heritage Square Museum

Here's a happy story with a vintage flavour from Los Angeles, where the fascinating-looking Heritage Square Museum has just gained a wonderful new "exhibit". A living history museum depicting southern California as it would have been at the turn of the last century, Heritage Square seems to have a wonderful selection of Victorian-era buildings to its name.  It had never had a chemists - or to use the American vernacular, a drugstore - though, until now.

The manner in which Colonial Drug has been introduced into Heritage Square is a heartwarming example of a business coming full circle and involving three generations of a local pharmaceutical family.  For the original Colonial Drug store, started in the 1920s by Latvian immigrant George Simmons, sat only a few streets away from where Heritage Square is now.  Thanks to Simmons' stockpiling habits his family, consisting of two sons and now their children (all of whom have worked at the various incarnations of Colonial Drug over the years), are in the unique position of having boxes of patent medicines and other vintage treatments from the 1890s to the 1950s.

Now after 20 years of sorting through these boxfuls of weird and wonderful potions the brothers Simmons and their families have opened a period-specific Colonial Drug store in the Heritage Square, using all the old products kept by George Simmons all those decades ago.  It was a stroke of minor genius to think of the living history museum as an outlet for these otherwise unwanted goods and top marks must go to Heritage Square people for seeing the potential and allowing - for the first time - the construction of a new building, an exact replica of the original Colonial Drug.


So the store that began decades ago is back just as it was, albeit now as a living recreation, stocked full of original medications and still staffed by the Simmons family.  Should I ever find myself in Los Angeles a trip to the Heritage Square Museum and Colonial Drug (and its soda fountain!) would definitely be on my list of experiences.


  1. That looks fantastic. Are they selling their actual stock? What will happen when they run out, I wonder...

  2. I love stories like this!

    Thanks for sharing,

    Porcelina xx

  3. What a lovely story - far too few good tales make the news or our blogs, let alone ones with a distinctly vintage history to them. I really enjoyed this post, Bruce, thank you for sharing it.

    Wishing you a splendid Monday,
    ♥ Jessica


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