In architectural terms, gargoyles have a purpose other than decoration. They are meant to convey rainwater away from the sides of buildings and preventing the erosion of the masonry and the mortar. In medieval times, most of the common folk were illiterate. Gargoyles began to decorate the sides of churches because church leaders needed a visual representation of the “horrors of hell.” Although the term gargoyle only dates back a few centuries, the addition of animal-like drain spouts has been practiced for millennia. A Butte parking garage recently had the gargoyles decorating its benches stolen as the MT Standard reports.

Only 3 of 8 gargoyles in an uptown Butte parking garage remain after five were stolen this past weekend.

The garage, which opened last month, had the gargoyles added as a special decoration. The stone statues were placed on benches outside the parking garage to serve as “protectors to all within.”

The gargoyles also served the purpose of hopefully discouraging people from sleeping or skateboarding on the benches. The statues were about four inches high by three inches wide.

One of the gargoyles was removed recently because it had come loose. Now, five others have gone missing.

The parking-enforcement supervisor for the structure filed a police report regarding the stolen gargoyles.

Designed by Jeff Kanning of Collaborative Design Architects, each statue cost $160. The gargoyles were designed in a Gaelic theme to fit Butte’s Irish heritage. The foundry where the gargoyles were forged in bronze has since burned down. There is no way to replace the ones that have gone missing. Due to the thefts of the five gargoyles, the other two will be removed to prevent those from being stolen as well.

The incident is prompting the owners of the garage to install surveillance.

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