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article imageThe case of the missing gargoyles

By Martin Laine     Oct 9, 2014 in Odd News
Worcester - It’s a case befitting the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Eight 1.5-ton gargoyles have gone missing from a historic Worcester, Mass., church. They were last seen at an auction two years ago, but never went up for bid, and haven’t been seen since.
It all started in 2006, when the gargoyles were taken down from the bell tower of the Liberty Church on Chestnut Street. They were supposed to be stored in the church basement while city-ordered repairs were made.
Apparently that never happened.
The 119-year-old church, formerly known as the Chestnut Street Congregational Church, is a one-fifth scale replica of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was recently put on the market by its present owners, an Assembly of God congregation. The asking price is $2.5 million.
After learning of the sale, Deborah Packard, executive director of Preservation Worcester, and Pastor George Cladis went to check on the gargoyles a few weeks ago and discovered they weren’t there, according to an article in the Boston Globe. It seems they never were stored there.
Will Bard, who resigned from the church earlier this year, said he was involved in seeing to it that the gargoyles were properly stored when they were taken down in 2006. When the contractors who took down the gargoyles tried to bring them into the basement, they found they would not fit through the door.
The owner of the company, Paul Monaco of Monaco Restorations, Inc., offered to store them in a warehouse he had in Southbridge, Mass., and that is where they were taken.
In another eyewitness account, in an article in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, John McAuliffe, 91, a retired dentist, witnessed the removal of the gargoyles. He took a particular interest in them because his grandfather was the sculptor who made them for the church in a studio on Foster Street.
“I spoke to one of the drivers and he told me someone had bought the gargoyles and he was delivering them,” McAuliffe said.
Other people told Preservation Worcester’s Packard that they had seen the gargoyles at the Southbridge warehouse.
But Monaco Restorations, Inc., filed for bankruptcy in 2009, and former owner Paul Monaco died last year. The Monson Savings Bank had a $769,589 claim against the company and seized the company’s assets. The items were sold off in 2012 at an auction at the Southbridge warehouse.
The gargoyles were listed on the announcement of the auction, and caught the eye of Mark Tellier of Advanced Masonry and Restoration of Holyoke, Mass. He went to the auction hoping to buy at least one.
“I remember seeing them there,” he said. “They were inside the building placed on skids, but they never came up for bid at the auction. I was told they were being bypassed.”
Packard recently searched the former Monaco warehouse in Southbridge, but found no trace of the gargoyles. She told the Telegram that church officials had informed the bank that the gargoyles were their property. She said bank officials have not responded to her queries about what happened to the gargoyles.
“It’s all a mystery,” she told the Globe. “All we want is the gargoyles back so they can be put in a safe place to be put back on the church where they belong.”
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