What’s the story with the Wharton Gargoyles?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

by Daisy Yuhas

When you first visit Wharton courtyard, you’re most likely struck by the quaintly collegiate Gothic architecture, fall foliage, and possibly the view of the tennis courts. A slightly closer look at the architecture, however, might bring your attention to the unusual gargoyles that line the eaves of the courtyard.

Curiously and abruptly foreshortened man, beast, and somethings-in-between leer out at Swatties from various vantage points. However, these gargoyles, unlike medieval predecessors, have nothing to do with spirituality or rain gutters. In fact, they are a depiction of the four seasons and 12 signs of the zodiac. Along Section A-B of Wharton, you can spy Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and Cancer. Inset between Leo and Virgo on C-D are Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Finally Libra, Scorpio, Sagitarrius, and Capricorn line eaves of E-F.

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