The Bruce’s Beach History Advisory Board is wrapping up its work.

The Manhattan Beach board has solidified the language it’ll present to the City Council next week for two new plaques that will commemorate Willa and Charles Bruce, as well as other Black families who lost their nearby property in the early 20th century through the eminent domain.

A task force created last year to compile an accurate archive of Bruce’s Beach history was also tasked with coming up with ideas for a monument that would shed light on these folks’ experiences. That group has since compressed into the history advisory board and is finishing up the job; the board finalized the proposed language for the plaques this week.

Currently, a plaque with very little information on the couple’s legacy sits at the top of Bruce’s Beach Park, near Highland Avenue.

“On behalf of the Bruce family, I thank the history committee for its due diligence at getting at the truth and having the integrity to tell it no matter what the outcome was,” Duane Shepard, Bruce family representative and a distant descendant of the former seaside resort owners, said during this week’s board meeting.

A plaque honoring the Bruces will go somewhere near The Strand, by the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Operation Center, which is on the two parcels the Bruces once owned. Those parcels is also where Bruce’s Beach Lodge once sat.

The other plaque, as recommended by the board, will be at Bruce’s Beach Park and dedicated to Maj. Rev. George W. and Ethel Prioleau, Mary R. Sanders, Milton B. and Anna E. Johnson, Elizabeth M. Patterson, and James and Lula Slaughter.

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Installation of both is expected to happen by the end of the year.

City staff is currently working with Los Angeles County to determine the specific location for the plaque near The Strand, said city management analyst Alexandria Latragna.

Details on the size and design of the plaques will be fleshed out with the artist. Along with highlights of the history, though, the board has said it also envisions myriad photos that would visually expand on the stories told, as well as clips of historic news articles and advertisements for events at Bruce’s Beach before the resort closed.

The City Council will discuss the proposed plaque language during its Tuesday, July 20, meeting.

In the meantime, board members are looking for photos of Charles Bruce, as well as trying to get permission to use photos they recently found of Bruce’s Beach visitors, such as J.L. Edmonds, then-editor of The Liberator, an early 1900s Black-serving newspaper that preceded a similar publication, The California Eagle.

If the council approves the plaques’ language, the city will then collect bids from artists to construct the plaques, said Latragna, who has worked alongside the board. The council has said previously that the pieces should be installed by the end of the year, she added.

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Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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