This statue of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, by William Green Turner, was erected on September 10, 1885 at the foot of what is now known as Eisenhower Park in Washington Square in front of the Washington Square County Courthouse. Turner, a native of Newport, was living and workin gin Florence when the city sponsored a competition for the statue. In a campaign to win local support, he made a model for his design, at an expense of $15,000, which was exhibited in libraries and business offices around the city.
Oliver Hazard Perry Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, born August 23, 1785 in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, was an officer in the United States Navy. He served in the War of 1812 against Britain and earned the nickname "Hero of Lake Erie" for leading American forces in a decisive naval victory at the Battle of Lake Erie, where he not only commanded all U.S. Naval forces, but supervised the building of a small fleet. During the battle Perry's flagship, the Lawrence, was destroyed and Perry rowed a half-mile through heavy gunfire to transfer command to the Niagara, carrying his battle flag which read "Don't Give Up the Ship", the famous final words of Captain James Lawrence. While this opened Canada up to possible invasion, it simultaneously protected the entire Ohio Valley. It was one of only two significant fleet victories of the war. In 1819, during an expedition to the Orinoco River in Venezuela, he died of yellow fever contracted from indigenous insects while aboard the Nonsuch. His body was originally buried in Port of Spain, Trinidad but his remains were later reinterred in Newport, Rhode Island. After briefly resting in the Old Common Burial Ground in Newport, his body was moved a final time to Newport's Island Cemetery where his brother Matthew Perry is also buried.
The statue sits across from Buliod-Perry House, which he purchased in November 1818, weeks before being ordered to the Carribean. On the pedestal may be seen the words of Perry's celebrated report written on the back of an old letter, after the victory on Lake Erie --"We have met the enemy and they are ours." In front of the statue is a pretty little fountain surrounded by flower-beds. Outside of the enclosure and planted upright in the ground at either corner are old cannon which once formed a part of the armament of the "Tartar," a sloop of war of 115 tons, built by the colony in 1740. The Parrott gun standing on the Mall beyond the Perry monument was given to the city at the beginning of the late was, by Samuel Powell, Esq., but it has never been in active service.