Photos

City building gargoyles returning to Parkersburg

Photo provided to Parkersburg News and Sentinel  These two gargoyles from the old Parkersburg City Building have been stored for the past 31 years by Bernard Powers, who worked for Mountain State Demolition, the company that demolished the building. The city building was razed in September 1980.
Photo provided to Parkersburg News and Sentinel
These two gargoyles from the old Parkersburg City Building have been stored for the past 31 years by Bernard Powers, who worked for Mountain State Demolition, the company that demolished the building. The city building was razed in September 1980.

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Two familiar faces are returning to Parkersburg.

Organizers are raising $900 to buy and transport two gargoyles that were on old city hall at Fifth and Market streets, which was demolished in September 1980.

“I’d be surprised if we don’t get a response,” said Bob Enoch, president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society.

Enoch became involved in the return of the stone gargoyles when Bernard Powers, who worked for Mountain State Demolition, the company that razed the city building, came to the newspaper looking for a contact about who would be interested in the statues.

The gargoyles were above an entrance on the Fifth Street side of the building, more than 30 feet high. They are 27 inches high with a base of 13 inches and weigh about 300 pounds each.

Powers had them removed intact and put into storage, but they eventually wound up in his hands.

“I’ve had them for 31 years,” said Powers, who now lives in Unionville, Va., where the gargoyles are located.

He protected them from the elements and from damage, building special pallets because of their weight to prevent them from falling over.

The gargoyles weren’t often moved, he said.

“It was a lot of trouble,” Powers said.

Powers accepted an offer of $900 from Enoch for the gargoyles.

Powers will deliver the massive statues.

Enoch contacted Parkersburg Mayor Jimmy Colombo about displaying the pair at the municipal building in the main second-floor lobby where the original bell from old city hall is on exhibit.

“I will tastefully put them in that area,” Colombo said.

The plan is to obtain two pedestals upon which the gargoyles will be placed, Colombo said. The pedestals will match the color and texture of the stone gargoyles, he said.

“We’ll try to match them to make them look good,” he said. “I hope they’re not weathered to death.”

Colombo cited Enoch’s commitment toward protecting area history. Among Enoch’s projects are the restoration of old cemeteries.

“You’ve got to give him credit for that kind of stuff,” Colombo said.

Until then Enoch would appreciate and encourage donations toward the purchase of the two gargoyles. Checks can be sent to the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society, P.O. Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

The old city building was built in 1895. A 1973 study said the building was unsafe, but $150,000 would be needed for limited use.

However, a new city hall was built and moved into in November 1979.

What makes the gargoyles significant is few artifacts remain from the old city building, Enoch said.

“We don’t have much memorabilia about it, except for stones in yards,” he said.

A mystery from the old city building is the clock, Enoch said.

Someone at city hall at the time said the city wanted the clock and it was removed and placed in storage, Powers said. A photo of Powers and Jack Buckley with Mountain State removing the clock face is among the most iconic of the demolition photographs printed in The Parkersburg News.

But Buckley doesn’t know where the clock is.

“Since then it’s been lost,” he said.

“They don’t know what happened to it.”

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