THE ICON: John McDonogh
THE LEGACY: John McDonogh left half his fortune in 1850 to build schools in his native Baltimore, in New Orleans and McDonoghville, the West Bank neighborhood named after him. McDonogh’s $1.5 million bequest, which would be worth more than $45 million today, was left for the benefit of children “of both sexes and all classes and castes of color.” The effects of his gift are still evident. The John McDonogh Fund wasn’t completely exhausted until 2002, and in 2018, there is one school in Jefferson Parish and four in Orleans with McDonogh in their names.
THE ARTIST: Connie Kittok, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “Because he always wore the same worn, almost threadbare suit, many people thought of McDonogh as a miser. But the richest man in Louisiana looked like a bum to save money for children. He wanted to help all underprivileged children of New Orleans, and he decided the best way to do that was to accrue land.” – McDonogh biographer G. Leighton Ciravolo at a 2000 presentation called “150 Years of John McDonogh’s Legacy.”