John Barry

Statue: John Barry (March 25, 1745 – September 13, 1803)
Location: 14th Street, NW, Franklin Square Park (west side)
Sculptor: John J. Boyle, New York
Unveiling: May 16, 1914
Cost to taxpayers: $50,000

The idea of erecting a statue of Commodore Barry was first suggested by Archbishop Ireland (his name) during a banquet of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in New York and furthered by the Emmet Club of Washington, D.C. A bill was introduced in Congress by Representative Driscoll of Saratoga, New York, in August 1902 to appropriate a sum of $25,000 for the purpose of a statue. It wasn’t, however, until 1906 when Congress appropriated $50,000 for the memorial and statue.

The first go at a statue for John Barry was held in April 1908 when a competition was opened for 25 American sculptors of Irish descent. Of the 25, seven sent in designs, these were whittled to three designs and then in February 1909 Andrew O’Connor was selected as the competition winner and he sent in his final design in June 1909.

This initial design and a subsequent remodel were rejected due to opposition by the Ancient Order of Hibernian and other Irish societies. Finally John J. Boyle, of New York, was asked to submit a model. The first model that Boyle entered was rejected but his second was ultimately accepted as the final model for the sculpture that is located in Franklin Square.

The statue was based on the only portrait known to exist – that by Gilbert Stuart which hangs in the statehouse in Philadelphia – and captures Barry in 1802 as a 57 year-old in poor health, not as a young sea captain.

The statue shows Barry in uniform, with a cloak thrown over his shoulders. His right hand rests on his sheathed sword, the point of which is on the ground. His left arm hangs naturally and his head is turned  a little to the right.The emblem of the Society of the Cincinnati is featured on his left breast. Barry was an original member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati institute October 4, 1783.

The figure will stand on a marble pedestal. on the front side of the shaft with her back to it will stand a figure of Victory, and underneath, on the base, will be the only inscription on the statue:

John Barry
Commodore of the United States Navy
Born County Wexford, Ireland, 1745
Died in Philadelphia 1803

There is a stone base of 30 feet that originally was landscaped with bushes – but those have been trimmed back in recent years.

Just before the unveiling Admiral George Dewey, who had been asked to give a speech at the unveiling, noticed that Barry’s back was to the street. Dewey said that a brave officer like Commodore Barry never faced the rear so the state was turned around before the dedication.

John Barry was born in Tacumshane, County Wexford, one of Ireland’s foremost fighting counties, in 1745. He moved to Philadelphia when he was 15 years of and became a sailor. At the start of the Revolutionary War he immediately signed up for service and was put in command of the Lexington, the first vessel that carried the American flag on the ocean, and soon afterward captured a British was vessel called Edward.

During the winter hiatus of 1776-1777 when thick ice stopped naval fighting, John Barry commanded a company of volunteers and assisted with operations in Trenton, NJ.

Commodore Barry died in Philadelphia on September 13, 1803 and was buried at St. Mary’s churchyard. One part of the inscription, composed by Dr. Benjamin Rush, reads: “In the Revolutionary war, which established the independence of the United States, he bore an early and active part as captain in their navy, and afterward became its commander-in-chief.”

He has been referred to by historians as commodore, but he was never commissioned so that title is a courtesy. He was, however, the first captain of the American sea force, and therefore, often referred to as the Father of American Navy.

For many years during the 1920s the Sons of the Revolution Commemorated Barry’s Birth by placing flowers at the statue. (1924, 1926, 1927).


Want a Barry Statue: Association Thanks Those Who are Prominently Identified in Movement., The Washington Post, 09 June 1906: 11

Barry Statue Contract: John J. Boyle, of New York, to Erect $50,000 Memorial Here., The Washington Post, 13 Dec 1911: 14.

President Enthusiastic in his Speech Praising the Deeds of John Barry Dedicating Naval Statue in Memory, The Washington Post, 17 May 1914: 7

John Paul Jones

Statue: John Paul Jones (July 6, 1747 – July 18, 1792)
Location: 17th Street and Independence Avenue, NW (Potomac Park)
Sculptor: Charles Niehaus, New York
Architects: Carrere & Hastings
Unveiling: 3:00 p.m., April 17, 1912
Cost: $50,000

John Paul Jones was a Scottish sailor and the United States’ first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolution.

In June 1909 Congress appropriated $50,000 for a statue of Commodore John Paul Jones, and the Memorial Commission decided to locate it in the small circle in Potomac park at the foot of Seventeenth Street, north of the tidal basin.

Originally it was hoped that the statue would be dedicated in 1911, but the Commission didn’t like the initial design of the ship in which Jones is standing and that part of the statue had to be redesigned. The statue was designed by Charles H. Niehaus. The final design was finished in a building at Seventeenth and E Streets, and was unveiled in 1912.

The memorial consists of a marble pylon of classical design that is a background for a colossal bronze figure of the naval commander. The pylon is 15 feet high and occupies the center of an ornamental fountain at the north entrance to Potomac Park. Water for the fountain comes from the bronze heads of dolphins at each end of the pylon. On the back of the memorial will be placed a large bas relief panel of Jones raising the American flag on the warship Bonhomme Richard.

The statue of John Paul Jones stands 10 feet high, and shows him in what is considered his most famous stance – it represents the naval hero standing in a characteristic attitude on the deck of a warship. It was accordingly decided to ask the artist to remodel that feature of the base of the statue.. He is shown in full uniform with his right hand clenched and his left hand grasping the hilt of his sword.

The pageant which will be under the director of Brig. General Robert X Evans will probably march by way of Penn to 17th street. Admiral Dewey will pull the unveiling cord. The Rev. Charles Wood, pastor of the Church of the Covenant will pronounce the invocation.

The memorial dedication included a martial pageant, which was composed of cavalry, artillery, and infantry regiments of the United States army, marines, sailors, and officers of the Navy, and the District National Guard, that provided military honor, and prominent speakers who gave eulogies upon Jones life and achievements. President Taft and General Horace Porter, former United States Ambassador to France, to whom the credit for restoring the bones of the hero of his country is given, will be the principal speakers.

In 1919, a resolution was approved to allow the D.C. Society of the Sons of the American Revolution to place a tablet at the base of the John Paul Jones statue. The tablet unveiling ceremony was held in 1920.  The tablet is inscribed with a statement John Paul Jones delivered to the Marine Committee of Congress on September 14, 1775, outlining the proper attributes of a good naval officer:

It is by no means enough that an officer of the Navy should be a capable mariner. He must be that, of course, but also a great deal more. He should be as well a gentleman of liberal education, refined manner, punctilious courtesy and the nicest sense of personal honor.  He should not only be able to express himself clearly and with force in his own language, both with tongue and pen, but he should be versed in French and Spanish. He should be the sold of tact, patience, justice, firmness and charity.

In 1927, in observance of the 180th anniversary of the birth of John Paul Jones, exercises were conducted at the statue by the Sons of the Revolution. A wreath was placed at the base of the statue by Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Aeronautics Edward P. Warner.


Jones Statue Model, The Washington  Post, June 10, 1909

To Honor John Paul Jones: Monument will be erected here in Summer of 1911, The Washington Post, March 6, 1910

Dewey will unveil statue, The Washington Post, April 7, 1912

Honor to JPJ, Daniels Approves Plan to Place Table on Statue Here, The Washington Post, December 27, 1919

Nation’s Tribute Paid Paul Jones, Thousands Take Part in Unveiling of the Tablet in Potomac Park, The Washington Post, October 31, 1920

Exercises at Statue Honor John Paul Jones, The Washington Post, July 7, 1927