May 6, 2020

Woodstock Wildlife

A close-up look at the terra cotta menagerie of real and mythological creatures guarding The Woodstock: four lions, four unicorns and six gargoyles, hard to see from the street since they're so high up.

Terra cotta (Latin for fired earth) is baked clay, a building material that's been around since ancient times and was having a vogue in the 1920s. The Woodstock statues were made by Atlantic Terra Cotta, then the largest producer of architectural terra cotta in the world. 

First up, the gargoyles:

The six gargoyles on the eastern and northern walls of the building portray fierce mythological creatures, some with canine and porcine features. Four of the six appear to be in the process of renovation, stabilized with wire and netting, only adding to their menace. 

The Unicorns:
Above, the four unicorns guarding the corners of the east and west walls. Below, an Atlantic Terra Cotta employee on a ledge inspects one of them in 1929, a time when safety standards were more lax than today. 

The Lions:
The four lions are placed on the north wall; two have been recently restored, as shown above. Below, a close-up of Gary the lion, unofficial mascot of this blog. More on him here and here.

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