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Public Affairs : Gargoyle returns to West Point

Former gargoyle on Pershing Barracks returns to West Point, may be restored

By Keith J. Hamel
West Point Association of Graduates staff

Have you ever looked up at the southeast corner of Pershing Barracks’ clock tower and noticed that something was missing? If you have, you know that there is no gargoyle in the southeast corner watching over the cadets as there are on the other corners of the tower.

What you might not know, however, is that this gargoyle has been grounded in the garden of a 27-acre family farm in South Hamilton, Mass., for roughly 60 years. The gargoyle has been well kept as the farm belongs to Joanna Patton, wife of retired Maj. Gen. George S. Patton IV, U.S. Military Academy Class of 1946, and daughter-in-law of Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

Sometime between 1951 and 1952, while the West Academic Building (now Pershing Barracks) was undergoing renovations, the gargoyle fell off. Not knowing what to do, workers on the project were going to heave the slightly damaged gargoyle (its stone wings clipped) into a dumpster.

Luckily, Col. John K. Waters, Class of 1931, the former Commandant of Cadets, was walking by and rescued the endangered species by taking it to the home of his sister-in-law, the aforementioned Joanna Patton. She took exceptional care of the gargoyle and showed it to hundreds of West Point graduates who visited the Patton’s Green Meadows Farm, including Freed Lowrey, graduate of the Class of 1967, who came by in 2000 to present an honorary award to Maj. Gen. Patton for his role in the West Point Association of Graduates’ Bicentennial Campaign. At that time, it was made known that West Point could retrieve the gargoyle at any time. Their suggestion lay in limbo for about a decade until Col. Ty Seidule, the Department of History’s deputy head, was having dinner with the late Col. Mike Endres, Class of 1986. Endres told Seidule the amazing story about the gargoyle and was excited by the prospect of bringing it home.

Seidule contacted Mrs. Patton and learned that she was offering the farm, which has been in her family for three generations, to the local historical society; however, she said the gargoyle should be returned to West Point. Now, under the guidance of retired Col. Robert McClure, Class of 1976, and with the help of the West Point Society of New England, the gargoyle is returning to West Point.

According to Seidule, Greg Church, an architect and the academy’s cultural resources director, will determine if the gargoyle can be restored to its former position of glory on the southeast corner of Pershing Barracks to keep a watchful eye over the thousands of cadets who would troop beneath it unaware of its six-decade absence.
Gargoyle with Mrs Joanna Patton.jpg
The gargoyle which once kept residence on top of Pershing Barracks at West Point, N.Y., has been well kept at the farm belongs to Joanna Patton, wife of retired Maj. Gen. George S. Patton IV, U.S. Military Academy Class of 1946, and daughter-in-law of Gen. George S. Patton Jr. The gargoyle has returned to the academy after its six decade absence.         Courtesy Photo