COUNCIL BLUFFS — The Black Angel is now “whole again,” a neighborhood leader said Friday during a ceremony at one of the most famous sites in Council Bluffs.
The Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial, also known as “The Black Angel,” has had a hole in its back for years.
Make that decades.
“I remember it was gone when I was a kid,” said Sharon White, a City Council member, who grew up in the area.
The hole in the back was where a maintenance hatch was placed when the statue was created by nationally known sculptor Daniel Chester French. The hatch was opened to access the water dials that controlled the water that flowed in the statue's basin.
Was the hatch stolen or simply misplaced?
“Who knows what happened?” said Ken Freudenburg, a member of the Lincoln/Fairview Neighborhood Association.
His group decided to seek funds to have a sculptor create a new hatch for installment. The effort paid off when the Dodge Family Trust provided a $2,500 grant.
To do the work, the neighbors chose Council Bluffs native John Lajba, who created the bronze statues at the Veterans Memorial in Bayliss Park, as well as the famous College World Series celebration statue that graced Rosenblatt Stadium and, now, TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
“I cast it myself in my studio,” Lajba said as he ceremoniously attached the hatch to the statue.
“This makes our angel whole again,” said Susan Seamands, Lincoln/Fairview president.
It was a feeling shared by Freudenburg.
“It's nice to have it there,” he said. “It completes it now.”