Historic bronze statue stolen from park

| April 25, 2024 | 0 Comments

CHILDREN PLAY near bust of former Fourth District Los Angeles City Councilman Harold A. Henry at Harold Henry Park in Windsor Village. Photo by Julie Stromberg

Local theft is part of an alarming trend

Residents of Windsor Village recently discovered that a sculpture of the late councilman Harold A. Henry has been stolen from a park named in his honor. The bust had stood for more than 50 years upon its pedestal at the park, which sits on a peaceful stretch of Lucerne Boulevard between Olympic and Wilshire boulevards.

Henry, who died in 1966, served the Fourth Council District from 1945 until 1966. He served four terms as city council president.

The councilman’s bust, created by sculptor Enrique de la Vega, is not the first metal artwork to be stolen in Los Angeles. Sadly, such theft is increasing. Years ago, this statue’s commemorative bronze plaque was taken. At nearby MacArthur Park, two bronze statues accompanying the statue of Harrison Gray Otis, former publisher of the Los Angeles Times, have been stolen; one, a depiction of a newsboy, within the past two months. And, further away in Pasadena, 11 bronze light posts, each over a century old, recently were stolen on Orange Grove Boulevard. Bronze is 88 to 90 percent copper, which is valuable on the recycling market.

BUST of former Fourth District Los Angeles City Councilman Harold A. Henry at Harold Henry Park in Windsor Village.
Photo by Julie Stromberg

It is disturbing to city officials and to residents of the Windsor Village neighborhood alike. Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky said, “Stealing a bust from a public park is totally unacceptable.” Barbara Pflaumer, president of the Windsor Village Association said, “We are saddened at the loss of the beloved bust of Harold Henry, the benefactor of the park that is enjoyed on a daily basis by the whole community. It is our fervent hope that the bust will be returned or replaced.”

The park has been a magnet for locals since the city purchased the land in 1965. Prior to becoming a community park, the large two-lot property was a family compound owned by the Wood family. It consisted of five houses.

When the city bought the land, neighbors united to ask then Councilman Henry to create a park instead of approving the building of a large apartment complex. Clearly, the neighbors got what they wanted. (Prior to serving as a councilmember, Henry had established the Wilshire Press in 1925, a newspaper that he edited and published until 1941.)

Over the years, playground equipment has been upgraded periodically and, a decade ago, a nearly $1 million park renovation was done on the neighborhood’s jewel of a park. The pedestal on which the stolen bust once stood was part of the renovation.

The Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks was notified about the theft, and Edwin Canales, senior park maintenance supervisor, told us that the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) had been notified. The city art collection department of DCA is in charge of artwork in parks.

EMPTY PEDESTAL on which the bust of Harold A. Henry stood for decades.

Longtime Windsor Village resident Julie Stromberg, who recently relocated west to Brookside, has hopes that the bust will be returned. Said Stromberg, “It’s so sad. I have trouble accepting it. [The bust] is such a special thing.”

When the Chronicle reached out to the LAPD Senior Lead Officer Hebel Rodriguez, he told us the investigation is still open. Rodriguez said detectives are gathering information and plan to ask neighbors whose homes face the park whether they have security cameras that may have captured footage of the theft. A police report (#240708017) was filed on April 10.

As the Chronicle went to press, City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto said in an April 18 newsletter that she is partnering with the Los Angeles City Council, the Bureau of Street Lighting, the LAPD and the Port Police Dept. to eliminate the market for stolen copper.

She sent a letter to 700 City recyclers to notifiy them that they will face state penalties if they break California’s laws regarding stolen copper.

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