Why is there a statue of Winston Churchill near the entrance to the Hilton New Orleans Riverside hotel on Poydras Street?
The 9-foot-tall statue of Sir Winston Churchill, the British prime minister during World War II, was unveiled at that spot between the Hilton New Orleans Riverside and the World Trade Center in November 1977, soon after the Hilton opened. The traffic circle there was dedicated as British Plaza. Both the statue and plaza were gifts of the hotel's developers, including James "Jimmy" Coleman Jr., the honorary British consul for Louisiana at the time.
"Our commitment of $600,000 for British [Plaza] is our way of saying to New Orleans that we appreciate the enthusiastic encouragement we received in our efforts to revitalize the glorious and historic riverfront," Coleman told The Times-Picayune.
The bronze statue depicting Churchill with his right hand leaning on a cane and his left hand raised in a victory salute is the work of British artist Ivor Roberts-Jones, who also created the statue of Churchill that stands in front of Parliament in London.
Lady Mary Soames, the youngest of Churchill's five children, visited New Orleans for the 1977 statue unveiling. According to a Nov. 20, 1977 article in The Times-Picayune, she told the crowd how proud she was that her father "was chosen to be a symbol of the bond between our two countries and of the mutual passionate love of freedom."