Major Clarence Tynan Barrett (1840–1906), part of a prominent Staten Island family, distinguished himself through careers in landscape architecture, sanitation engineering, and the military. A descendant of early immigrants to the American colony, Barrett’s great-great-grandfather, Colonel James Barrett, defended Concord, Massachusetts against British troops during the Revolutionary War. Born across the river in Rahway, New Jersey, Barrett’s parents settled in Richmond County when he was young.
Barrett studied landscape architecture until the outbreak of the Civil War, when he signed with the 175th New York Volunteers regiment. He worked his way up through the ranks and was eventually promoted to captain and aide-de-camp of the United States Volunteers. He earned the rank of Major after serving gallantly during the Union siege of Mobile, Alabama.
Barrett was involved in the battle at Richmond, Virginia, which signaled the end of the War in 1865, after which he returned to Staten Island, establishing himself as an expert in his chosen fields of profession, landscape architecture and sanitation engineering. Barrett was also eager to contribute to public service, acting as Police Commissioner for seven years and as Superintendent of the Poor for five years.
Originally unveiled on November 11, 1915 just southeast of Borough Hall, the bronze classical warrior figure on a marble pedestal by Sherry Edmundson Fry (1879–1966) was given to the City by Barrett’s widow, Anna Hutchings Barrett. The triangular base, inscribed with the words “Loyal, Honest, Brave and True,” are carved with relief figures in a Grecian-style processional, which relate to Barrett’s place in a long military tradition. In 1945 the monument was moved to its present site at Major Barrett Triangle, and the drinking fountain on the back of the monument was disconnected.
In 1989 the Barrett Memorial was conserved with a $6,000 donation from The Lynne Robbins Steinman Foundation through the Municipal Art Society’s Adopt-a-Monument Program. In 1997 Council Member Jerome X. O’Donovan funded a $13,000 renovation of the triangle, which repaired its sidewalks, paths and pavement. The Clarence T. Barrett Park Zoo, also on Staten Island, commemorates Barrett at the site where he once operated a plant nursery.
Major Clarence T. Barrett Memorial Details
- Sculptor: Sherry Edmundson Fry
- Description: Standing figure with shield and spear (heroic scale) on integral plinth on broad, bilevel pedestal with bas-relief of two martial scenes separated by classical mask on lower level; large oval basin in front, and small drinking fountain in rear
- Materials: Figure--bronze; Pedestal and basin--pink Tennessee marble
- Dimensions: Figure H: 8'½" W: 4' D: 2'; Integral plinth Diameter: 3'3"; Pedestal H: 5' W: 12'9" D: 6'; Total H: 13'2" (excluding basin)
- Cast: 1915
- Dedicated: November 11, 1915
- Foundry: Roman Bronze Works, New York
- Donor: Julia Olivia Hardin, trustee for Anna E. Hutchins Barrett
- Inscription: 1) Integral plinth, rim front left: S.E. FRY 1915 /
2) Integral plinth, rear: ROMAN BRONZE WORKS, N.Y. /
3) Pedestal, upper level front: MEMORIAL TO MAJOR / CLARENCE T BARRETT /
4) Pedestal, lower level rear: ERECTED IN LOVING MEMORY OF / 1840--MAJOR CLARENCE T. BARRETT--1906 / A FAITHFUL ACTIVE CITIZEN OF / RICHMOND BOROUGH, / WHO SERVED WITH DISTINCTION / THROUGH THE CIVIL WAR. / A DESCENDANT OF / COLONEL JAMES BARRETT, / COMMANDER AT BATTLE OF CONCORD, / APRIL 1775. / LOYAL, HONEST, BRAVE AND TRUE /
5) Pedestal, side: PRESENTED BY / MRS. CLARENCE T. BARRETT /