The Associated Press
FILE - In this June 24, 1952, file photo, Sir Winston Churchill smiles at the front door of 10 Downing Street, London. A group devoted to preserving the legacy of Churchill is announcing Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, it will create the first permanent U.S. home to study the former British prime minister at George Washington University. An $8 million gift will create the National Churchill Library and Center at the university, which will include rare books and research materials, in collaboration with Churchill institutions in Britain (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON — An international group devoted to preserving the legacy of longtime British leader Winston Churchill is creating the first U.S. research center focused on him at George Washington University.

The Chicago-based Churchill Centre is announcing an $8 million pledge Thursday to establish a new National Churchill Library and Center at the university in Washington. Churchill is widely admired for leading Britain during World War II.

An agreement calls for transferring rare books and research materials to the university's library and creating the center between 2013 and 2015. The gift will create endowments to support a professor and a curator devoted to Churchill and to 20th century British history.

From the gift, $2 million is devoted to renovating space for the Churchill center and $1 million will fund exhibits and programs.