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Statue of bucking horses was a Lake Park landmark

Last week we told you about the “mariner” statue that stands at Phil Foster State Park.

It’s just part of the extensive works of Earl LaPan.

From 1934 to 1939, LaPan, originally from Lowell, Mass., created wall-sized scenes of tropical birds and Indian chiefs at more than 300 South Florida hotels, some of them famed Art Deco structures.

In 1962, he created his twin 10-foot-high, 1-ton bucking horses in front of the First Federal bank at 500 S. U.S. 1 in Lake Park. The artwork became a landmark and First Federal often was called simply “the horse bank.”

LaPan (pictured above) died of pneumonia at 87 in February 1996.

“I was extremely proud of him,” nephew Roy Bahr, 81, said. Bahr’s Vero Beach home is decorated with much of his uncle’s artwork. “He was an extremely talented individual.”

First Federal went through new names and owners and finally closed in 2001, to be replaced by the Pediatric Respiratory Center. In 2005, one horse was toppled in a storm, and the center’s owners decided the second one was a danger to pedestrians, so it came down as well.

The following year, the steeds were replaced by a bronze statue depicting five children — four boys and a girl hugging a doll — climbing a vine-covered rock.

An artist found it wouldn’t be practical to repair the horses, so officials proposed the town and the center owners chip in to create new ones and place them on the other side of U.S. 1 in Kelsey Park. Nothing ever came of that.

Update: Several readers – including former Post colleague Chuck McGinness, who grew up in Riviera Beach – called to correct our May 17 column on the Mariner statue. The bank actually was First Marine Bank & Trust Company of the Palm Beaches and was at 20th Street and Broadway in Riviera Beach, not in Lake Park.

Special thanks to staff writer Bill DiPaolo.


Earl LaPan’s statue of a pair of bucking horses was erected in 1962 in front of First Federal bank in Lake Park. One of the horses was toppled by a storm in 2005 and the other, deemed a hazard, was taken down the following year. (Palm Beach Post file photo)

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg May 24, 2012 at 9:29 am.

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