Do you know the difference between a gargoyle and a chimera? Read on to find out!
1. Gargoyles were originally designed as water spouts, to carry rainwater from a roof and away from the side of a building, so that it wouldn’t run down the masonry and erode the mortar. A trough cut in the gargoyle’s back catches the rainwater, which then exits through the open mouth.
2. The longer the gargoyle, the further the water would be carried from the walls, which is why they’re usually carved into a very long, fantastic looking creature.
3. Although gargoyles come in many forms, most are carved into grotesque, hideous looking creatures in order to frighten off evil spirits from the buildings which they guard.
4. An ornamental gargoyle that is not constructed as a waterspout is technically called a chimera or boss.
5. Running from 1994 to 1996, “Gargoyles” was Disney’s most popular cartoon series, inspiring an intense fan following. It was so popular it even inspired an annual fan convention starting in 1997, called “The Gathering of the Gargoyles.” Sadly, it was officially discontinued in 2009.
6. Many of the character voices on the Gargoyles show were those of regular Star Trek cast members, including Marina Sirtis, Colm Meaney, Jonathan Frakes, Nichelle Nichols, Michael Dorn, Avery Brooks, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Kate Mulgrew, David Warner and Paul Winfield. What, no Patrick Stewart?
7. The empire strikes back — not to be left out, the dreaded Star Wars villain Darth Vader is featured as a gargoyle — or chimera, actually, on the northwest tower of the Washington National Cathedral. While the towers were under construction in the 1980s, a nationwide children’s competition was held to design decorative sculptures for the building, which were then sculpted, carved and placed high on the rooftops. Submitted by third-place winner Christopher Rader, Darth Vader is perched high on the northwest tower, where you’ll need a good pair of binoculars to spot him.
8. While England basically put the kaybash on gargoyles around the end of the 18th century, passing a law that all modern buildings must have drainpipes, they continued to be popular in the U.S., particularly New York and Chicago throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Most notable are the stainless steel gargoyles fashioned after hood ornaments on the world famous Chrysler Building.
9. The term gargoyle originates from the French word gargouille, which means throat or gullet. Appropriately, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is famous for its gargoyles and chimeras, which are clearly visible from the ground and look out over Paris.
10. The most beloved haunted house gargoyle (although technically a chimera) is “Junior,” a 35-foot grotesque statue busting through the roof some 35 feet tall at Cutting Edge Haunted House. Come see Junior and all of his freaky friends, now through Halloween weekend right here in Forth Worth! And tell ’em Junior sent you!