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Gargoyles, Grotesques and Jesuits: The Statuary Carvings of Barbelin Hall

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Barbelin Hall

This image is a view of the southern façade of Barbelin Hall during construction in 1927.

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Barbelin Hall Construction

Two stone masons on scaffolding working on the gothic tracery of Barbelin Hall.  The building was completed in 1927.

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The Agunsday Grotesque

This is the only carving attributable to a particular stonemason, Anthony Agunsday. He was the craftsman and foreman of the stone masons. Here, he is photographed putting the finishing touches on a grotesque, or chimera.

Heraldic Shield of Saint Joseph’s University COD

Heraldic Shield of Saint Joseph’s University

The shield is quartered, that is, divided into four parts by a cross. The upper left quarter displays seven bands representing the seven sons of the House of Loyola: St. Ignatius and his six brothers. The upper right depicts two wolves and a kettle, symbolizing the hospitality of the Loyola family. The lower left features a lily, an iconographic attribute of St. Joseph, the patron of the university. The lower right features the letters “IHS,” the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek, the monogram of the Society of Jesus.


The Emblematic Tympanum

The emblematic tympanum upon which are carved three shields featuring conventionalized symbols of Learning, Holiness, and Health on a background of intertwined grape and oak foliage. Learning is symbolized at left by the lamp of knowledge on a book; Holiness, by a Latin cross on a larger shield at center, and Health, by a baseball bat, basketball, football, tennis racket, and cricket bat, all interlocked.


The Courageous Lion

The Courageous Lion is the guardian of the Barbelin Quadrangle. The lion looks down from under the oriel bay at the top of the staircase in the northwest corner of the Quad. His eyes are human and wise; his wings are prominent symbols of divine mission.

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Introduction to Saint Joseph’s Architecture

Students arriving for the fall semester in 1953 looking at the relief carving of “The Mischievous Student” located the Gothic main archway entrance of Barbelin Hall on City Ave.

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“The Mischievous Student”

A detailed image of the “The Mischievous Student.”  "The Watchful Professor" occupies the other side of the archway entrance of Barbelin Hall on City Ave.

Felix J. Barbelin, S.J., Founder, first (1851-56) and fourth (1860-68) president COD

Felix J. Barbelin, S.J., Founder, first (1851-56) and fourth (1860-68) president

Barbelin’s image is found in the Barbelin Hall Quadrangle, first position on the east cornice.  He wears a surplice, a preaching stole, and a biretta on his head.

James A. Ward, S.J., third president (1857-60) COD

James A. Ward, S.J., third president (1857-60)

Ward’s image is found on the cornice of the northwest corner of the Barbelin Hall Quadrangle.  He wears clerical garb and a biretta on his head.

William F. Clark, S.J., seventh president (1896-1900) Clark

William F. Clark, S.J., seventh president (1896-1900)

Clark’s image is found alone on the east cornice of the Barbelin Hall Quadrangle.  He is the only president depicted wearing eye glasses.


The Biology Grotesque

This carved limestone creature holding a frog represents the academic discipline of biology.  Another one (not pictured) holding a test tube symbolizes the study of chemistry.

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Ex Libris Grotesque

A literate grotesque, creature reading a book inscribed with the words Ex Libris (from the library).

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Modern Art

A human face is depicted reduced to its basic form and positioned over a detail of a classical architectural capital symbolizing the evolution of Modern Art from classical forms.


The Joy Ride

Two students are depicted at the wheel of a car enjoying a hair-raising adventure that symbolizes the rise of the Automotive Age and Machine-Age ideals. Henry Ford’s Model A was unveiled in 1927, replacing the more basic Model T open touring car.

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Andy Gump (historic photograph)

The Gumps was a popular comic strip, running from
1917 until 1959, about a middle-class family led by Andy
Gump, the bungling father of the clan. Gump had an
impossibly long nose and no chin whatsoever.

Andy Gump 2018 COD


Andy Gump 2018

Ninety years of exposure to the elements on City have taken a toll on Andy Gump.  He has lost much of his prominent nose and his once clean appearance has darkened with age.


Pan (historic photograph)

The Greek god of music, Pan, plays a saxophone symbolizing the Jazz Age. The movie, The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, was the first true “talking picture.” The film was released in 1927.

Pan 2018 COD

Pan 2018

Pan, too, has been changed by time and the environment.  Grit and grime have made a huge difference in his appearance.  His saxophone has become worn and chipped.

Object descriptions excerpted from "Barbelin Hall Turns 90" by Carmen R. Croce ’71, Director of the Saint Joseph's University Press and curator of the University’s art collection.  The article appeared in Saint Joseph's University Magazine, Summer 2017 issue. 

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