The National WWII Museum and its Board of Trustees, joined by Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, officially broke ground on The Higgins Hotel & Conference Center on Dec. 8.

The 230-room hotel, which is scheduled for completion in 2019, will operate as part of the Curio Collection by Hilton.

“We fundamentally believe that a dedicated space to host educational programs for students, teachers, enthusiasts, corporate groups, reunion groups and military is a core component of what we should have here at the museum,” said Stephen J. Watson, president & CEO of the museum. “When we looked at our last undeveloped piece of land, we wanted to ensure that we created a property that would economically support the museum’s educational mission, while also enhancing our visitor experience. When you pair that with our increasing visitation, a hotel … is a natural choice.”

The new-build property will aim to support the museum’s expanding educational programs while offering guests full-service hotel accommodations as a convenient way to maximize their time at the museum.

In 2017 alone, The National WWII Museum welcomed 700,000 visitors—85 percent of those visitors came from out of state, and almost half cited the museum as their primary reason for traveling to New Orleans.

As the museum increased in reputation, a need for meeting space was determined. The Board of Trustees then established World War II Theatre, Inc., a wholly-owned special purpose entity, and retained Hostmark Hospitality Group to manage a hotel and conference center that will support the museum.

Named after Higgins Industries shipbuilder Andrew Higgins, the property will be inspired by the war era and feature a striking art deco style designed by renowned architects Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates from Coral Gables, Florida, and interior design firm Kay Lang + Associates from Los Angeles.

In addition to its 230 guest rooms and suites, the property will feature a second-floor conference center with more than 18,000 square feet of meeting space, including a sophisticated boardroom and five meeting rooms bearing names related to the content and themes of World War II. Six levels of donor underwriting opportunities are available ranging from conference meeting rooms to individual guest rooms and suites.