PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If you’ve been to Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood, you’ve probably seen a strange and beautiful sight: a bigger-than-life gold statue of Joan of Arc sits in the traffic circle on NE Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Glisan Street.
But what does Joan of Arc have to do with Portland?
The teenage warrior, who led the French Army to defeat the British during the Hundred Years War, was immortalized in a famous Parisian statue.
In 1924, an exact replica of the statue was given to the City of Portland by prominent physician Henry Waldo Coe.
The world traveler who settled in Portland decided to donate the Joan of Arc statue as a tribute to American soldiers who lost their lives on French soil during WWI.
But he didn’t stop with Joan of Arc.
“He did see some statues in Europe and was impressed by the quality of them, by the look of them,” Kerry Tymchuk with the Oregon Historical Society said.
Coe commissioned world class sculptors to craft 3 other statues for the city: the George Washington statue on Sandy Boulevard, the Abraham Lincoln statue on the Southwest park blocks, and the Teddy Roosevelt rough rider statue across from the Portland Art Museum.
“Roosevelt was a personal friend of his,” Tymchuk explained.
The sculptures weren’t cheap, either. Coe paid about $40,000 for the Teddy Roosevelt statue in the early 1900’s — which would equate to about $500,000 in 2015.
Today, the traffic circle where the Joan of Arc statue sits has been renamed Coe Circle in the physician’s honor.