Fallen Angel

How a sculpture was loved and lost in Loveland.

Once upon a time a great big angel made its way from Pueblo to Loveland. But everybody didn't live happily ever after. In fact, the 1,000-pound, white terra-cotta angel was strapped to a thick mattress on a flatbed trailer and hauled back to Pueblo, and Polly and Dallas Hansen are pretty bummed.

The whole sad story started last November, when Darwin Hansen took the five-and-a-half-foot angel up to Loveland as a birthday gift for his mother, Polly, who had seen the statue a few months earlier down in Pueblo, where he lives.

For years the ninety-year-old sculpture of an angel with one arm around a little girl and the other hand pointing to heaven had stood on a pedestal in front of Sacred Heart Orphanage in Pueblo. In 1972 the orphanage closed, and an antique dealer named Joe Tate, who had spent several years living there as a child, bought the statue. Tate sold it to a woman and then bought it back from her and planted it in front of his house. Last fall, Darwin Hansen, a friend of Tate's, showed his parents, Polly and Dallas, the statue, and they fell in love with it. Tate, who was dying of cancer, agreed to sell it to them.

Polly was thrilled. "I had seen it in this old gentleman's yard," she says. "Why would I ever dream of it being in my yard?"

The Hansens, who live in a Loveland retirement community called Westwind Village, kept the statue in the garage during the winter and brought it out in May, then steam-cleaned and repainted it. Darwin resculpted a missing toe, and Dallas sealed a crack in one of the angel's arms.

Everyone who came by to watch the work was excited, the Hansens say, including one of the members of the board of their condominium association. The Hansens placed the angel in a rock patch just off their front walkway, about ten feet from their front door. The couple placed a black trellis around the angel and planted flowers.

That's when the trouble started.
Five days after the Hansens put the statue outside, they received a letter from the Westwind Village board of directors telling them to remove it and informing them that they needed permission from the board to put it back up.

"I'm disappointed we weren't approached by the [board's] officers when we were placing it," Polly Hansen says. "I didn't do it in a day's time or in a sneaky manner."

The Hansens say they didn't sleep the night after the first letter came. A few days later, on May 21, they wrote a letter to the board begging its members to allow the statue to remain. "This has a very deep meaning to us, and we hope you will find it in your hearts and minds to allow us to keep the sculpture where it is placed," the letter concludes.

The board rejected that plea and, after a special meeting May 23, ordered the statue removed in thirty days.

A spate of letter-writing ensued. The boardmembers were barely speaking to the Hansens, and Dallas Hansen referred to Roberta Price, the president of the homeowners board, as the "old bitch running all this." There were letters from the board to the Hansens, letters from the Hansens to the board, letters to the editor of the local paper. Most letter-writers supported the Hansens. One charged that the board was being "un-American, unneighborly and completely prejudiced."

Some people who liked the statue urged the Hansens to fight the board's decision. And they almost did. The angel stayed up through June, until a letter from an attorney rep-resenting the homeowners association demanded that the angel be taken down by the first week in July or "further action will be taken."

That was as far as Polly Hansen wanted to take things: Her health is not great, and she did not want to spend her money on a protracted court battle. "I don't want anyone to take pity on me," she says. "But I couldn't continue. I didn't have the funds to fight it, even though people offered me the financial means to try and keep it."

None of the boardmembers contacted by Westword will talk about the matter. "I'm just a peon," says member Rex Jones. "It's none of your business." Board president Roberta Price adds, "It was a private matter involving private property and private homeowners. The matter is over, and there's nothing further to say."

Now the angel is back in Pueblo.
Darwin Hansen has had offers from prospective buyers, he says, but "for now, the attachment to the statue and to my friend is too strong.

 
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