The James Building Griffin

Visitors to METC can’t help but notice the four-foot tall terracotta Griffin that stands in our courtyard. This cast figure is one of the original three griffins that once stood atop the James Building.
The James Building was built at the request of Daniel Willis James in 1899. This was the same year the philanthropist began building the library that is now our home. The James Building has five peaks, three of which were topped with griffins. Local legend has it that in the 1920’s lightning completely destroyed one Griffin and, at some point, another one mysteriously lost a wing tip. The third Griffin remained intact.
Artisan David Finlay used the intact Griffin to cast three reproductions. These reproductions were placed atop the James Building. In May of 2000, the original Griffin that faced the library for so many years was installed on a pedestal in the courtyard of the Museum, a gift of the Solu family.
A Griffin’s lion-like body symbolizes strength, and its eagle’s head represents intelligence. Long ears and eagle claws complete their look of vigilance and readiness. Griffins were considered by the Greeks to be the embodiment of Nemesis, the goddess of retribution. The fierce-looking creatures were considered by some civilizations to represent satanic figures. Some cultures considered the Griffin a symbol of the dual nature of Jesus Christ – divine and human. Whatever its role or reputation, we are delighted to have the original Griffin on duty at the METC’s new conservatory entrance.

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