Look Up, Chicago

Rockefeller Chapel’s “March of Religion”

Please note: Click on a thumbnail to enlarge all photos in this posting; clicking on any enlarged photo will reduce all this posting’s photos to thumbnails.

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The University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel, with its 207 foot tower and its exquisite gothic ornamentation, inside and out, always invites a ‘Look Up.’  

This photograph, which was taken from across 59th Street, just west of Woodlawn avenue, features the south facade of the chapel, which is also the main entrance.  This posting will focus on the thirteen statues that embellish the very top of this side of the Chapel.  

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The March of Religion

The Rockefeller Chapel Website identifies this series of figures as part of the March of Religion.  (The March of Religion, as described on the Website, comprises 15 statues, but two of them are not visible from the south and so are not included in this posting.) 

Perhaps others are also puzzled when they try to identify the statues. Some are fairly obvious (Moses, Christ and Peter, for example), but others are not as easily recognized. The goal of this posting is to identify each of the 13 statutes that are visible at the top of Rockefeller Chapel’s east facade.  This will be accomplished by using information from the chapel’s Website.  

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The graphic above is intended to provide a key to the statues as they will be pictured and named below.  Please note that, in this view from the south, statues 1 (west) and 13 (east), placed as they are on the side towers, serve as ‘bookends’ for the other 11 figures.   

March of Religion Details

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1.  Moses

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2.  Elijah

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3. Isaiah 

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4. Zoroaster 

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5.  Plato 

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6. John the Baptist 

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7. Christ

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8. Peter 

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9. Paul 

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10. Athanasius  

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11.  Augustine 

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12.  Francis 

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13.  Martin Luther

Not included with these photographs are the statues of Abraham (located on the west side of the west tower) and John Calvin (located on the east side of the east tower).  

Deco Arts Building, 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue, Chicago

Please note: Click on a thumbnail to enlarge all photos in this posting; clicking on an enlarged photo will reduce this posting’s photos to thumbnails.

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The Deco Arts Building is located on the southwest corner of 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. According to Wikimapia, it was built in 1929 for a Hyde Park Chevrolet dealership, which helps explain the automotive theme of its ornamentation.  While some may consider it a bit over the top, the Art Deco building provides an interesting and original use of terracotta ornament on a local building.  (See this link for more information about the Deco Arts Building.)  

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1. The Garage Entrance

This entrance is located near the south east corner of the building and opens on to Lake Park Avenue.  Note the elaborate ornamentation framing the windows and adorning the cornices.

Details of this photograph follow (2., Dashboard, 3., Engine block, 4., Top of Window Column and Cornice and 5. Roadster).

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2. Dashboard Motif (left)

These two terracotta tiles — paired with another set that will be displayed directly below — separate the second and third story windows on the north and east facades of the Deco Arts Building. They represent the dashboard of an automobile, including the gear shift and hand brake on the lower left and the steering wheel on the upper left.  The two tiles are joined vertically in the center and separated by an irregular, darker grey line of mortar.  

Note also the horizontal elements that are positioned above and below the dashboard tiles.  A close look reveals that it is a row of six hexagonal nuts viewed alternately, from the top and the bottom.  Each row consists of three tiles, with two nuts on each tile.  This demonstrates a key advantage of terracotta: a single mold (e.g., for the two-nut tiles) can be reused many times to lengthy patterns and forms.  

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3.  Engine Block Motif (right)

This is the second of the two sets of tiles that separate second and third story windows on the Deco Arts Building.  They depict the engine block and transmission of an automobile engine — with gear shift and clutch and brake pedals. The joint between the two engine-block tiles can be clearly seen here.  Note that the hexagonal nut, top and bottom frames are also used with this motif as well.  

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4.  Top of Window Column and Cornice 

Note the traffic lights positioned atop the column framing the outside of the second- and third-story windows and the representations of wheels, gears and other mechanical parts that serve as the top frame for the two third-story windows.  The latter — similar to the nut decoration above and below the Dashboard and the Engine Block tile sets — are constructed of three tiles.  In this case, however, the outer tiles mirror each other, and the center tile serves as a transition between the other two.  

Like the tiles discussed above, the cornice comprises a number of the same type of tile that are arrayed end-to-end across the top of the building.  

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5.  Roadster

The showpieces of the building are the speeding roadsters that can be found in four places near the top of the building. The roadsters consist of what appear to be four tiles.  The two left tiles extend to the back of the right front tire, being separated by a joint that curves behind the passenger’s head before becoming, again, a vertical line. The two tiles on the right appear to be joined through the radiator, just to the right of the roadster’s right headlight.  

Shapes and lines that suggest dust billowing up under the car and the passenger’s hair trailing behind combine to create the illusions of speed and power.  By the way, the crooked arm that extends up to the right of the driver’s head holds the windshield.  Close examination indicates that the lighter color that slants down to the right, over the driver’s head and the steering wheel, could be intended to represent the roadster’s windshield.  

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6. East Facade

The east (above) and the north facades of the Deco Arts Building are nearly mirror images of one another.  However, the four roadsters are going in the same direction, that is, from left to right.  This does make sense, however, from the point of view that the same forms could then be used to make all four roadsters, which could not be the case if those on the north facade were exactly symmetrical, meaning that they would have to travel from right to left.  (The roadsters are the only design elements on the building that are not somehow symmetrical on a vertical axis.) 

This photo shows that the windows are arranged in three different configurations.    The two window configuration appears twice on each facade:

  • to the left, over the garage, in this view, and
  • to the far right.

This configuration has been discussed with regard to pictures 1. through 5, above.image

7. Nine Window Columns

Nine of the window columns are arrayed side-by-side with a traffic light atop each separating or framing column.  This is very similar to the two-window column discussed above, except the separating column are not as detailed here as they are in the two window configuration.  Another difference is that an automobile tire is centered above each window column (rather than the roadster above the two-window configuration). The cornice above these windows is the same as that above the two-window column.  image

8. Single-Window Columns

The three examples of a single-window column can be seen (in photo 6., East Facade):  

  • on the far left,
  • behind the Century 21 sign and
  • over the purple canopy near the right edge of the building

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9. Single-Window Detail

The single-window column is distinctive in several ways, including:

  • The side frames have tire-like features for their bases (see photo 8., above).
  • The caps of side frames appear to be topped by spark plugs. 
  • The top window is capped by a sun-like symbol, with rays and lightning bolts emanating from it .
  • The cornice dips down and takes on a different, simpler form.
  • There are three tiers of chain links hanging beneath the fans(?) at the upper right and left of the cornice.

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10.  The Ravages of Time … and Signs

The Deco Arts Building has graced the Hyde Park community for about 85 years.  That those years will have taken their toll is only to be expected.

The photograph above is taken of the terracotta tiles between the second and third stories at the northeast corner of the building.  Of course it’s only speculation, but it appears that a steel I-Beam was retrofitted into these tiles and, subsequently sawn off, left an unsightly scar.  Moreover, here and elsewhere, repair to the terracotta tiles has often been heavy-handed at best.

Finally, the signage that is now applied to the Deco Arts Building is out of scale, unsightly and antithetical to the spirit of this fine old building. The only sign on the building that even comes close — but not too close! — to capturing that spirit is a sign over the north entrance that gives the name of the building.  Alas.

International House — 3. West Entrance

(This is the third of three postings focused on International House.  See the others at East Entrance and South Facade.)

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The west entrance to I-House opens on to Dorchester Avenue, just north of 59th Street.  This photo was taken from across Dorchester Avenue.  

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This relief is positioned above the door for the west entrance. Its background is provided by a globe that is more-or-less centered on the Atlantic Ocean, with a steam ship travelling westward. Seven figures kneel on their left knees in the foreground.

All face toward the left — or toward the west in relationship to the background. The left hand of each of the last six is placed on the right shoulder of the figure in front.  The right hand of each figure holds (protectively?) what appears to be a brightly shining oil-type lamp.

The hair, headdresses and clothes may be intended to suggest origins. For example, the second, fourth and sixth figures appear to be wearing robes.  Beyond that it’s difficult to define, with any degree of confidence, the geographic origin of all the figures, but these seven figures seem to be intended to depict the great diversity of the peoples of this earlth.

West Entrance Arch — Details

Similar to the east entrance, the arch above the west entrance door has sculpted figures, but there are a total of nine figures on the west, and two of those are larger and are set at the right and left bases of the arch.  

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1.  The figure (above) at the lower left base of the arch appears to represent a “cave man,” or, at any rate, a primitive human, with club in hand and wearing a covering — perhaps an animal skin — draped over his shoulders. 
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 2. Moving up and to the right, we find the depiction of a figure making a fire by rubbing sticks together.  The plume of smoke arises to the left, behind his right hand.

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3. Moving, again, up and to the right we find a hunter checking an arrow, with a bow behind him and, perhaps, a stone axe and quiver beside his knee.  

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4. Moving, once more, up and to the right, we see a scribe, who may be using a stylus to write on a clay tablet.  Some of the marks in the frame above his head suggest cuneiform characters.  image

5. At the apex of the arch, serving as a keystone, is a figure, with arms raised in awe, worship or fear, toward the sun.  Whatever its intended purpose, this carving has been placed at the central point in the left-to-right progression of these nine figures. 

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6.  Descending, now, to the right, we come upon a figure whose function is not readily apparent.  Perhaps this is a depiction of a farmer.  If that is the case, his left arm may be wrapped around a sheaf of grain, and the upright pattern behind his feet could represent the stubble remaining after harvest.  Following this line of thought further, the partial circle seen between his calves and over the stubble could be the setting sun. (Is that a lace-up running shoe on his left foot? Just kidding.) image

7.  Moving, again, down and to the right, we happen upon a printer in the process of ‘pressing’ the inked type onto paper.  

An interesting, technical progression could be seen between this carving and that described in 4. (writing), above.  A similar technical progression could be found between the figures in 3. (hunting) and 6. (farming).

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8.  Speaking of technical progress, this image of the mastery of the powers of steam and of electricity certainly dramatizes the technical distance humans have come since fire was first created by rubbing sticks together (2., above).

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9.  Finally, at the lower right base of the arch, we find a figure, with book in his lap, looking to the right — the direction toward which progress apparently leads.  He and the caveman (left base of the arch) serve as bookends for this little, seven-chapter story in stone.  

International House — 2. East Entrance

(This is the second of three postings focused on International House.  See the others at West Entrance and South Facade.)

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The east entrance to I-House opens on to Blackstone Avenue, just north of 59th Street.  This photograph (above) was taken from the east side of Blackstone Avenue and shows the eight carvings, all of which depict some aspect of transportation, that are located within the arch over the entrance.

Details 

1.  Beginning at the lower left, the first four carvings depict land transportation, beginning with foot travel, through the use of oxen, then horses and, finally, the steam locomotive.

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2.  From the bottom right, the first three carvings represent water travel, beginning with the canoe, through the sailing ship and to the steam ship. The final carving on the right is of an airship, a biplane viewed flying overhead, from right to left.  

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That is, indeed, a swastika on the sail of this boat.  The swastika was not adopted for the Nazi flag until Hitler’s ascent to power in 1933.  I-House was built in 1932.

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A Latin inscription also can be found above the east entrance arch:

I understand that this can be loosely translated as “No one is wise enough alone.”  

International House — 1. South Facade

(This is the first of three postings focused on International House.  See the others at West Entrance and East Entrance.)

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International House (I-House) is located between Blackstone and Dorchester Avenues at 59th Street, on the University of Chicago campus.  This photograph was taken from the Midway Plaisance, near the south west corner, at the intersection of Dorchester Avenue and 59th Street.

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Look up at this relief, positioned above the main (south) entrance to International House.  The four figures join right hands at the center of what appears to be a compass rose, representing peoples from the four corners of the earth and providing an apt symbol for I-House.  

Relief Details:  (clockwise, from upper left).   

These four, somewhat rough — that is, the sculpted stone has not been smoothed —  human figures  may have details intended to suggest their respective origins. 

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1.  This figure wears what appears to be a scarf, perhaps an indication of an origin in the colder climates of North America.  

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2.  A cape draped over the left arm of this figure may be intended to suggest an old-world, European genesis.

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3.  Is this figure wearing a turban?  This may be intended to suggest the Middle East, South Asia and even Northern Africa

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4. A short, bolero-style jacket and a sash may be intended to suggest South America.  

You can see other sculpted ornaments on the south facade, but they hardly seem to warrant inclusion here.  There is one exception, however, which can be found below:

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This high-relief sculpture is notably more detailed and ‘smoothed’ than are any of the other ornaments on I-House.   But, if this, and its position — more or less at the middle of the south facade — are intended to give it a special significance, the sculpture itself does not make that significance particularly clear.  In any event, the figure on the bottom left appears to be a dog, To its left is a somewhat crudely rendered lion.  Above these figures are a monkey, on the left and a vulture on the right.  A human figure rests astride the top branches of what appears to be a grape-like vine.  

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Stone and Ivy - 1

Those who have followed this blog for any period of time know that I am quite fond of the gothic sculptural ornaments adorning many buildings on the University of Chicago campus.  Some of these wonderful ornaments cannot be seen for much of the Spring, Summer and Fall, however, because they are hidden by the ivy that luxuriates on these venerable old limestone buildings.  

A recent visit to campus resulted in this collection of photographs, all of which were taken of grotesques located on the west and east sides of Mandel Hall.  Mandel Hall is located on the west side of University Avenue, just south of 57th Street. 

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333 North Michigan Avenue

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Photo taken from the plaza east of the Wrigley Building and just west of the Michigan Avenue Bridge.  (Click on image to enlarge it and click a second time to return to the smaller size.) 

According to Wikipedia’s article on 333 N. Michigan, this example of Chicago’s Art Deco architecture was designed by Holabird and Root/Holabird and Roche and was completed in 1928.

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Look up, with me, at the fifth floor of this building’s north façade  You should be able to discern four large and two small relief sculptures among the windows.  There are also two large reliefs on the east façade plus four large and three small reliefs on the west façade. These sculptures suggest early-day Chicago.  This motif may be based on the location of the building, which is near the original site of Fort Dearborn and the mouth of the Chicago River

All of the seven, unique reliefs can be view on the west façade of 333 North Michigan building.  The north façade displays six of the seven, and the east façade, only two. 

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1.  The northernmost relief on the west façade may represent Jacques Marquette, French explorer and missionary to Native Americans. He and Louis Joliet had reached the Chicago area in 1673, wintering there again in late 1674.  The canoe in the upper left of the sculpture, and the ropes being pulled by the Native Americans suggest that they are using a portage to get from one river system to another.  The Chicago Portage provided Marquette and Joliet with a shorter and more direct route from the Mississippi watershed to that of Lake Michigan. 

This first relief is the leftmost on all three, fifth-floor façades.

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2.  Moving to the right (south), the next relief appears to depict an interaction between a trapper or frontiersman and a settler.  The trapper is dressed in buckskin and wears moccasins.  The settler, on the other hand, wears boots and, perhaps, cloth clothing.  The settler is accompanied by a yoke of oxen, the true beast of burden for those seeking to settle on the trackless frontier. 

This relief is paired with the one to its right on both the west and the north façades. 

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The three reliefs, above, represent from north (top) to south (bottom): 

3.  A trapper carries pelts on his back and his flintlock musket in his right hand.  Eyes downward, he may be tracking additional game. 

4.  A Native American also has eyes cast down.  Are they focused  on the howling dog at his feet or on the trail before him?  He carries no weapons.  Incidentally, this relief is the only one of the seven that is not duplicated on the north façade.

5.  Finally, a woman firmly grasps her flintlock weapon with both hands — ready for any eventuality — as she moves toward the right.  Rather than looking at the trail ahead, she cautiously glances back over her right shoulder.  

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6.  This relief may refer to the Battle of Fort Dearborn, an unfortunate fallout of the War of 1812.  If so, the man on the right may have been struck by a bullet and the other men prepare for a fight.  The stockade and blockhouse in the background would then represent Fort Dearborn. 

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7. Finally, the southmost relief may represent the on-going commerce between the trappers/traders and the Native Americans of the Chicago area.  As for relief 1, this relief is the right most on all three façades.   

A case could be made for the north-to-south array of these reliefs being intended to represent a chronological sequence.  On the east façade, only the first (1) and last (7) of the reliefs are displayed.  On the north façade — as well as the west façade, as seen above — The first two (1 & 2)  and the last two (6 & 7) reliefs are in the same order.  On the north façade, however, relief 4 is not displayed, but the sequences of 1-3 and 5-7 are the same. 

Thank you for looking up with me at the 333 North Michigan building. 

Phoenix Sightings - 3

… which consists mostly of two-dimensional representations:  

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The following two photographs are of phoenixes located inside University buildings:

1.  Inside the east entrance of the Henry Crown Field House:

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2.  Inside the northeast entrance to Hutch Commons:

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That’s all — at least for now.

McGraw-Hill Building - Update

This update features one of the zodiac panels from the McGraw-Hill Building, 520 N. Michigan Avenue.  Anyone interested in a closer look at four of these massive reliefs can do so in the café area between the Shops on North Bridge (520 North Michigan Avenue) and the Nordstrom store (55 East Grand).  

Three of the panels on display in this area — Capricorn, Aries and Virgo — were included in the earlier post on the McGraw-Hill Building, but the Aquarius panel can only be viewed here.  (Click on image to enlarge it.)

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The Marquette Building: 140 S. Dearborn

Look up, with me, at the Marquette Building, located on the northwest corner at the intersection of Dearborn and Adams Streets.  This superbly restored Chicago School skyscraper is named after Father Jacques Marquette who, with Louis Jolliet, was the first European recorded to have explored the Chicago area, wintering over in 1674-75. 

This set of postings is limited to the bronze panels located over the east entrance to the Marquette Building.  If you are in the area, I urge you to enter the building and enjoy the beautiful Tiffany mosaics and additional bronze reliefs just inside the lobby.  There are many treasures both within — and outside — this remarkable building! 

For a more formal introduction to the Marquette Building, consider contacting the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  A number of walking tours scheduled during the week include the Marquette Building among their destinations.   

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The Bronze Reliefs — Marquette Building’s East Facade

This posting focuses on the four bronze reliefs that can be viewed above the east entrance to the Marquette Building.  The panels were the work of Hermon Atkins MacNeil, a noted American sculptor who is also credited with designing the ‘Standing Liberty’ silver dollar in 1916.  The reliefs can be readily seen from the sidewalk in front of the building. 

The reliefs are displayed, above, in the order in which they appear over the entrance, with the south (upper left) panel being the first, and the north (lower right) panel, the last of the four. 

1.  Marquette, Joliet and a handful of voyageurs load their two canoes for their expedition to explore the Mississippi.  The two leaders are standing near the center of the panel. 

2.  Marquette, standing at the bow of the nearest canoe, tries to convince Michigamea tribe members that they come in peace.  Jolliet is seated in the bow of the other canoe, to the right of Marquette. 

3.  Marquette becomes ill during subsequent travels along the Illinois River.  As a result, the expedition spends the winter of 1674-5 near the Chicago River.   Marquette is seated in the sled. 

4.  In May of 1675, on his return to the mission he founded at St. Ignace, Marquette died and was buried near the modern town of Ludington, Michigan.  This panel is probably intended to portray the removal of Marquettes remains to the St. Ignace Mission in 1677. 

Cobb Gate: Update

Cobb Gate Sculptures Free of Ivy

It is a great pleasure to note that the ivy has been removed from the grotesques on the north face of Cobb Gate at the University of Chicago.  Thanks to the University for making these iconic sculptures fully visible to all.