With all the talk of monuments lately, a friend re- minded me of a scandal involving the firemen's memorial at Greenwood Cemetery on Canal Street. Didn't vandals remove the head of the fireman statue sometime in the early 1990s?
Cemetery vandalism is a loathsome crime, especially when the target is a high-profile memorial at the intersection of Canal Street and City Park Avenue, seen by thousands of people each day.
Greenwood Cemetery was opened in 1852 and is owned by the Firemen's Charitable and Benevolent Association. The 52-foot-tall monument to local firefighters near the entrance to the cemetery features a statue of a firefighter with hose in hand standing beneath Gothic arches on a granite pedestal. The statue was designed by Alexander Doyle, who also designed local statues of Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard, as well as Margaret Haughery. The firemen's monument was dedicated on Oct. 23, 1887.
In December 1991, a vandal lopped off the firefighter's head, which is life-size and wears an old-style fireman's hat. "There are no clues to the whereabouts of the head, although New Orleans police are investigating," The Times-Picayune reported. One of the statue's arms and the hose were also knocked off but later were located. The head turned up a few weeks later and was returned to the cemetery by a man whose friend said he found it in a West Bank trash bin. Local stonemason Vincent Imbraguglio was hired to reconstruct and refurbish the statue. "He'll stand up to the ages," he said after finishing the job.