Unknown vandals deface ‘gargoyle’

By Greg Rivara

The grotesque, better known as the gargoyle, in the flower bed east of Altgeld Hall was the target of another vandalism act over the weekend.

University Police reports state that the grotesque was found Sunday spray-painted with green and yellow flourescent paint. Information regarding who or how many people are responsible for painting the grotesque is unknown.

The grotesque is often mistaken as a gargoyle. The difference between the terms is that a gargoyle is a water spout in the form of a grotesque. The water spout is designed similar to modern rain gutters and carries water away from a building. A grotesque does not act as a spout.

Robert Wallace, Physical Plant grounds gardener, said the grotesque originally sat on top of Altgeld Hall. The grotesque fell when it was struck by lightning, he said. Wallace is not sure how long the grotesque has been in its present location.

The surviving grotesques are still on top of the building’s “battlements.”

“Every once in a while people do something” to the grotesque, Wallace said, but “never anything like this (spray painting the figure).”

Antics involving the mini-park area and the grotesque include dressing the concrete figure up with hats, sunglasses or other items of clothing, and then taking a picture standing next to the grotesque amidst the flowers, Wallace said.

According to an NIU Visitor’s Guide, Altgeld Hall was completed in 1899 and referred to as the “Castle on the Hill” because of its design. The building’s Tudor Gothic design was chosen by then-Gov. John P. Altgeld because the style reminded him of castles near the Rhine River in Germany, the guide states.

The grotesque “has become a campus celebrity and the subject of occasional ‘dress up’ pranks,” the guide states.