Campus News

Crumbling Bowdoin Gargoyle to be Replicated

Hubbard Gargoyle
The gargoyle extended out about three feet from the Hubbard tower.

Story posted September 08, 2004

Over a hundred years of variable New England weather has taken its toll on the Bowdoin College gargoyle that has stared out over the Brunswick campus from atop Hubbard Hall since 1903. The cracked and crumbling original was recently removed from the Hubbard parapet, and the College is currently making plans to find a stonecutter to replicate the figure. Installation of an identical gargoyle is expected to take place next spring.

"We take great pride in our buildings and grounds, even those parts of our buildings that are well above eye level," said Catherine Longley, Bowdoin's senior vice president for finance and administration and treasurer. "This is an example of an unplanned restoration project that will have to be addressed by the College. The history and architectural significance of Hubbard Hall requires us to make sure its lone gargoyle is replaced."

A recent careful inspection by personnel from Bowdoin's Facilities Management Department and Consigli Construction (the company that has restored the Bowdoin Chapel Towers) revealed that the original gargoyle had disintegrated and was unrepairable.

Icicles formed on the gargoyle's mouth each winter.

Carved from relatively soft limestone, the figure served as a rainspout, with water entering the gargoyle's back and running out of its mouth. With its narrow throat, the gargoyle frequently became clogged with ice. A century's worth of freezing, expanding and contracting, as well as supporting the weight of huge icicles that formed on its mouth each winter, led to cracking and severe weakening of the figure.

The College is working with Consigli and consulting engineers SGH (Simpson Gumpertz and Heger, Inc.) of Waltham, Massachusetts, to make a complete assessment of the project. Once a stonecutter is engaged, it will likely take two months for the gargoyle to be created. Because the condition of other cracked masonry on the exterior of Hubbard Hall is currently being assessed, the timing of the gargoyle's installation may hinge on the timeline of other restoration work needed for the building.

Hubbard Hall, which occupies the southern end of the Bowdoin quadrangle, was built in 1903. The 17th-century Gothic-style building was designed by architect Henry Vaughan.

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