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Statuesque New Orleans

By Brian Friedman

New Orleans can come at you from shadowy corners and unexpected angles.  The same can be said for an intriguing group of the city’s sculptures and statues.

While Andrew Jackson dominates the famous square that bears his name, in each corner can be found one of the Four Seasons, a quartet of some of the first statues to be installed in New Orleans, according to Ashley Merlin, author/photographer of the recently published Statuesque New Orleans.

Installed sometime between 1850 and 1852, Autumn is “represented by a mature woman clasping a lancet; Winter, by an old bearded man draped in a cloak; Spring, by a young woman carrying a bouquet of flowers; and Summer is represented by a young man carrying a book, leaning against a tree and holding grapes,” Merlin writes.

And while most people who visit Lafayette Square tend to focus their eyes on the towering statue of Henry Clay – or to the myriad of musical acts that perform onstage during the popular Wednesdays at the Square – a glance up above the John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building across the street would reveal four sets of bronze sculptures known as The Ladies.

Installed upon the building’s completion in 1915, The Ladies were designed by Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the famous Lincoln Memorial, Merlin notes.  Each sculpture is 12 feet tall and weighs one ton.  History wears a bonnet, Agriculture holds a cornucopia, Industry is grasping a tool and Arts holds a bouquet of flowers.  They were refurbished in 1990 by the General Services Administration with a new coat of bronze.

Still in need of some refreshment is the statue of Margaret Haughery, or Our Margaret (as she was known).  Located on a small, triangular tract of grass where Prytania and Camp Streets nearly converge downtown, Our Margaret was Sculpted by Alexander Doyle and installed on July 9, 1884.

Known also as “Bread Woman of New Orleans” and “The Angel of the Delta,” Margaret was born in Ireland and moved to New Orleans after she married, according to Merlin.  Following the deaths of her husband and infant children, she devoted her life to the city’s orphans.

Poor and illiterate, she bought cows and used the profits from her dairy to provide nourishment for the poor, to build orphanages and acquire a bakery, Merlin said.  Upon her death, she left everything she had to charity, and the city then erected the statue in her honor.

“Time has not been kind” to the Our Margaret statue, said Merlin, and it is in dire need of refurbishment.  To learn more about the campaign to restore Margaret, please visit

Taking a turn toward the modern is the distinctively shaped Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the neutral ground on Basin Street.  Dedicated in 1987, the 18-foot-tall gray monument made of Italian Marble has inscriptions in both English and Vietnamese, and was financed by the Vietnamese Veterans Association of New Orleans.  It was the first in the country to be built by Vietnamese Americans to honor both Vietnamese and American veterans, Merlin said.

The inscription reads: “In memory of the American and Allied Armed Forces who bravely fought and sacrificed during the Vietnam War.”

Statuesque New Orleans is available throughout the greater New Orleans area and online at


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