A notice in the local paper, of a building’s possible appointment with a wrecking ball, spurred us* to document it. That was how we discovered the gargoyles on the Alumni Gymnasium of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. However, as I began to research them, I learned that gargoyles are waterspouts. Stony beings like these, which are not, are “chimera” or “bosses.” But when you look at these photos, I’ll bet a majority of you are thinking “gargoyles.” Also, that whoever carved them had a sense of humor.
Since I’m not the art historian of the 2NHGs, I asked Susan/Isabella about this architectural feature. She introduced me to the term Collegiate Gothic, which led me to this very interesting piece in the Atlantic about its origins...
...and then, in the way of nerdiness, to this pdf, which early on makes two intriguing points: “Success of these buildings can be measured, in part, by the fact that these are often the most desirable buildings in which to live, despite the fact that in many cases they have undergone only minimal updates over the years and are in somewhat worn condition.
“Success is also measured by the ability of these buildings to be modified. (Italics mine] During their renovations they have been able to withstand interventions while maintaining their structural and aesthetic integrity. At the same time they are capable of being updated with state of the art systems and programmatic changes.”
Interestingly, as I continued research—about the WPI building in particular—I discovered that a team of engineering students apparently—and only last year—did view the Alumni Gymnasium as “desirable." They prepared this proposal to renovate it. Furthermore a fundraising project was under way in spring of 2014, and appears to be continuing ... for a building WPI wants to raze?
So I guess the the university is saying ... erm ... “Never mind.”
N.B. The building was in use as late as 2012.
Well, at least they’re promising to save the gargoyles/chimera/bosses.
*Actually, I told my husband he had to document it, because he’s a real photographer.