Gargoyles and Grotesques I Have Known

Thomas Rosell remarked after yesterday’s post that there is a difference between gargoyles and grotesques, namely that gargoyles serve a function as a downspout, while grotesques are, well, I guess “ornamental” may not be the best term, but mainly their purpose is to peak over the parapet and seem as if they might be about to lob a tomato or something over onto passersby.

That distinction sent me back to my computer where I have all of my digital photos (mostly) organized and (somewhat) tagged, to see how many of the photos I had tagged as “gargoyle” were actually “grotesques.” The results are in, and it appears I’ve been getting it wrong all these years, with only a few images of downspout gargoyles. Most are grotesques, apparently, but I think I’m just going to make a unilateral decision and call them all gargoyles. “Grotesque” has a judgmental quality to it, and these guys are just too much fun to be judgmental about.

Since I spent my evening wandering down memory lane and didn’t have time to actually write, like, you know, a post, I thought I would just post my best gargoyle shots. As you can see, our Lamar Life gargoyles are pretty young things compared to some old grizzled gargoyles from other parts of the world. The Lamar Life gargoyles are my only gargoyles from Mississippi. Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, or maybe we’re more serious about our Gothic buildings or maybe we’re easily frightened, who knows?

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Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places

3 replies

  1. I recognized that little guy from Avignon! This was a fun posting!


  2. Could we call them Tomato Lobbers? :-)


  3. As I stood on the steps of the Masonic Temple in Hattiesburg under that Star of David and watched black kids milling around the Vernon Dahmer bronze statue which now occupies the spot where the Forrest County WWI War memorial once stood, I wondered just how long the Confederate monument in front of city hall will remain in place.
    I was at the Temple for the small claims court. I looked up at the roof edge of the temple and saw these gargoyles installed in the soffit at about every ten feet around the roof edge. I don’t recall ever seeing gargoyles on ante-bellum homes.
    But the brick building with Colonial Spanish Tile roof that my grandfather Oscar Burkett had constructed on Newman Street back in the 1930s has pale green (oxidized)copper gargoyles in the front. My grandfather was a member of that Masonic Lodge. So, I do not know if he borrowed the gargoyles from Mr. Tatum or from that time he and my grandmother went to California around 1912 for his schooling in architectural metal fabrication.

    I have never heard anyone identify the architectural style. My father told me that the architect was C. C. Herrin. I have a photo of Dudley[later, Governor] Conner standing together with C. C. Herrin in a member group posing in front of the Temple. There was a C. C. Herrin in the Yazoo City and Bentonia area in that period of time.
    My grandfather lost ownership of the building when Mayor Tatum gave the executive order to remove all coal-gas piping lines in the city and bought the Rankin County NG field at a public auction and built a pipeline to the area around 1934. My grandfather was left with an unsaleable inventory of coal-gas fired appliances. He had some deal to purchase some 75 acres of farmland which is now Highland Cemetery for his interests in the Newman property. Thad L. Fowler Gas[NG] and Appliance ended up owning the property. Then it went to Bruce. It is now privately owned. MDAH needs to correct that error.

    This Masonic Temple has copper gargoyles:


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