The Le Moyne brothers were instrumental in founding New Orleans. How has homage has been paid to their memories?
Michelle Olinger Jolly
Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville and his brother Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, explored the Gulf of Mexico and its coasts in 1699. Iberville settled on the Gulf Coast, establishing the first settlement of the Louisiana colony, Fort Maurepas, which today is Ocean Springs, Mississippi. A bronze statue of Iberville was erected at Fort Maurepas Park.
Bienville continued to explore the Mississippi River and in 1718 established a permanent settlement called Nouvelle Orleans, named for Duc d'Orleans of France. There is a bronze statue honoring Bienville at Bienville Place, a triangular park at 400 Decatur St. in the French Quarter. In 1955, New Orleans native and Newcomb College graduate Angela Gregory sculpted the statue, which includes figures of a Native American and Father Athanase Douay, the French monk who was with Bienville when the explorer first landed in New Orleans.
This statue once stood at the Union Passenger Terminal, but traffic signals blocked a view of the monument, and pollution from passing vehicles damaged the bronze on the statue. In 1996, it was moved to its current location.
Tributes to the brothers' contributions also can be found at Musee Conti, the wax museum on Conti Street, and the Louisiana State Museum has an oversized statue of Bienville, but it currently is in storage. The museum also has the Iberville Stone, which Iberville is believed to have inscribed in 1699, when he reached the mouth of the Mississippi River.