Grotesques (“Gargoyle”) Gallery

According to Russell Sturgis, writing in Sturgis’ Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture and Building, a gargoyle is:

A water spout, especially one projecting from a gutter and intended to throw the water away from the walls and foundations. In medieval architecture, the gargoyles, which had to be very numerous because of the many gutters which were carried on the tops of flying buttresses, and higher and lower walls, were often very decorative, consisting, as they did, of stone images of grotesque animals, and the like, or, in smaller buildings of iron or lead.

With few exceptions, the gargoyles at Washington University do not carry water; they are purely decorative. Thus they are not in fact gargoyles. Rather, they are Bosses or Grotesques. We do not know who created the designs for the grotesques at Washington University. Nor do we know the names of the stonecutter(s) who created the images we now see on our campus buildings. (Images courtesy of Joe Angeles, Photo Services Department, W.U. Public Affairs)

Selections from the Fred R. Hammond Collection

In the mid 1980s, the University Archives received one its most unique artifacts – a sketch book containing designs for many of the bosses which adorn our older campus buildings. This book, along with a number of historical photographs, was the gift of Fred R. Hammond, an architect who worked for the firm of Jamieson & Spearl, of St. Louis. Jamieson & Spearl was the successor firm of Cope & Stewardson, the firm which designed the Hilltop Campus, and Jamieson & Spearl was responsible for much of the campus’ building program as late as the 1950s.

Below are links to a sample of images from the Fred Hammond Collection. Special thanks to Chris Cramer, former Student Life photographer, for providing us with these photographs. (Note: the original sketches are in pencil; all the photographs are black and white)

Grotesques in Graham Chapel

(Images courtesy of W.U. Public Affairs)

For more information on the history and decoration of Graham Chapel, see our online exhibit, Grotesques, Glass, Graham: Marriage of Masonry.

Other Gargoyle Links

Bill Galloway carved over 40 grotesques for Anheuser-Busch Hall. Mr. Galloway generously provided images of two of the grotesques created for Anheuser-Busch Hall.

Walter Arnold, a stone carver from Chicago, has put together a colorful and informative site.

A Love of Monsters: Gargoyles and Architectural Details in New York City

The Gargoyles of Princeton University: A Grotesque Tour of the Campus – Nice sketches plus lively, informative text about Princeton’s gargoyles.