‘The Sentinel’ statue keeps watchful eye on The Point

‘The Sentinel’ statue with storied past keeps watchful eye on The Point
All photos by Kathy Chouteau.

By Kathy Chouteau

“The Sentinel” keeps a close watch from its perch on Park Place and Washington Avenue in Point Richmond as residents go about their everyday business.

The metal sculpture depicts a Native American man leaning on his bow while overlooking the downtown hamlet, as if ready to protect it. It was created by sculptor Kirk St. Maur and dedicated to the city Oct. 20, 1984 during the administration of Mayor Thomas J. Corcoran, according to a plaque at the site. It is also meant as a memorial to the region’s Native Americans.

What some residents may not know is that the current statue is the second “Sentinel” to preside over Point Richmond’s business district. The first one was created by J.L. Mott Iron Works in San Francisco with support from the Women’s Westside Improvement Club and was installed atop a large fountain in 1909.

The statue fixed its watchful gaze over Point Richmond until 1943, when a truck driver leaving a local bar accidentally backed into it and toppled it to the ground, according to the Historical Marker Database. The first statue’s demise coincided with World War II—a time when scrap metal was particularly precious—and reportedly, city maintenance crews picked it up for use in the war effort or local repairs.

Point Richmond went without a statue on its downtown triangle until October 1984, when the City of Richmond and local companies—like Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and Interactive Resources—joined together with the Richmond Rotary Club, residents of Richmond and many others to erect a new replica statue of the original “Sentinel” at the same location.  Bricks below the statue bear their names.

A plaque on the current statue states that the historical interest in the choice of a Native American (as the statue’s subject) remains the same: “His freedom lost in our past is a reminder of how precious freedom is and how precarious survival remains.”