By John Schaffner

The Buckhead Coalition is offering rewards for information related to the return of three bronze turtles which were part of a multi-piece sculpture by Birmingham artist Frank Fleming in the triangular Charlie Loudermilk Park at Peachtree and Roswell roads.

The sculpture was purchased by the coalition in 1998 from Birmingham artist Frank Fleming for approximately $200,000. The sculpture features an upright stylized bronze buck reportedly telling the story of how the community of Buckhead got its name to a group of smaller animals including one rabbit, three dogs and six turtles.

Sometime early in October, three turtles disappeared.

The coalition has announced a reward of $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the turtles’ disappearance.  An additional $500 is being offered for the return of each undamaged turtle. The turtles weigh approximately 75 pounds apiece.

If the turtle thieves think the statues are copper and worth a lot of money, they are in for a surprise.

Although the scultpures have the look of copper, that is only a finish over bronze, Coalition President Sam Massell said.

Massell also hopes the culprit may feel some regret when he or she learns that Buckhead elementary school students  are being asked to write essays on “Why We Want Our Turtles Back.” The winning school will receive a $250 award.

Because of the historical significance of the animal collection, an additional $250 honorarium will be given to the Buckhead Heritage Society by the coalition if the three turtles are returned.

Legend has it that Buckhead’s name was changed from Irbyville when a buck’s head was hung near the site in 1838.  The sculpture in Charlie Loudermilk Park helps keeps that history alive, Massell said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.