Joan of Arc statue in Portland, OR

A golden statue of Joan of Arc in Portland, Oregon

We think every traffic circle should have a shiny, golden statue.

Photo via @bryoncole

Standing beside the golden figure of French heroine Joan d’Arc on a bright, clear day, one can almost hear the sound of trumpets and the flapping of pennants on the summer breeze. The heady aroma of flowers weaves through the air — a beguiling scent that could belong to any moment in history, even the early 1400s. A driver, eager to be home after a long day’s work, honks at another car... and the spell shatters.

It’s the year 2022 and this is Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood; specifically, a large traffic circle at the intersection of Northeast Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard + Glisan Street. At its center stands a not-so-inconspicuous 12-ft. statue of the famous teen peasant-turned-warrior who led the French army to victory against England in the besieged city of Orléans during the Hundred Years War.

Portland’s statue is an exact replica of a statue that was commissioned by Napoleon III following the 1870 Franco-Prussian war + sculpted by Emmanuel Frémiet. The original, which first stood at the Place des Pyramides in Paris (near where Joan of Arc was wounded in a battle), can now be found near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A duplicate took its place in the French capital.

The copy in Portland, which features a granite base designed by Margaret Goodin Fritsch (the first woman to graduate from the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture), was given to the City of Portland in 1924 by physician and Oregon US Senator Henry Waldo Coe. He donated the statue in honor of the American soldiers slain on French soil during World War I.

Portland isn’t the only city with a version of the statue — others stand in New Orleans and Melbourne, Australia.

You may recognize some of the other statues that Coe donated to the City of Roses: George Washington on Sandy Boulevard, Teddy Roosevelt near the Portland Art Museum + Abraham Lincoln in the Southwest Park Blocks.

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