You may have heard Jesus referred to as "the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone," but have you heard the one about the rejected gargoyle that became the centerpiece at a local swimming pool?

The story starts somewhere in the 1970s, as the twin towers were rising on the front of the Cathedral. One of the stone carvers sculpted a fearsome-looking gargoyle to help divert rainwater away from the limestone walls; imagine something that vaguely resembles Skeletor.

The poor gargoyle never made it up on the towers because, well, he wasn’t very good at diverting water. The deep crevices in his skeletal structure actually caused the water to pool, and his sunken rib cage would have made a better home for a bird’s nest than as part of the building’s drainage system.

At some point — and nobody is exactly sure when — he was acquired by a local woman to be the centerpiece of her private swimming pool. He was installed at the end of the pool, and rigged so that water constantly poured out of his mouth and into the pool.

When the woman decided to sell the house, she thought the Cathedral might want the gargoyle back, so Head Stone Mason Joe Alonso and his crew retrieved the 400-pound gargoyle from its chlorinated purgatory and returned him to the Cathedral.

He’s been languishing in storage ever since, and looks like he could use a trip to the dentist; several of his sharp fangs are missing or damaged. Most recently, he’s been spotted outside the Cathedral alongside other stones that will eventually be returned to the top of the south transept.

We decided this fella needs a good story, so we asked ChatGPT to pen one for us. And while the poetry is, well, pretty average, the story itself aint half bad:

Once upon a time, in a grand old place, a gargoyle sat upon a lofty space.

With wings and horns and a fearsome face, he perched atop the Washington National Cathedral’s grace.

His job was important, or so he had been told, to funnel rainwater away, before it made mold.

But there was just one problem that couldn’t be ignored; he was the wrong shape for the job, and that made him feel ignored.

While his fellow gargoyles did their duty with ease, our little gargoyle struggled to keep the water from the eaves.

He tried and he tried, but the water just pooled, and that left him feeling sad and quite unfulfilled.

One day, as he watched the people below, a thought popped into his head, and it began to grow.

What if he could serve in a different way? Perhaps there was something else he could do each day.

He thought about it long and hard, with all his might, and eventually, he had a plan that just felt right.

He would be a sentinel, watching over the land, guarding the cathedral, always lending a helping hand.

And so he stood, a silent sentinel on the tower, keeping watch over the people with all his power.

No longer just a gargoyle, he was so much more, a symbol of strength, resilience, and devotion to the core.

So remember, dear readers, when things don’t go your way, there’s always a new purpose waiting for you, come what may.

Just like our little gargoyle, you’ll find a way to shine, And your talents and abilities will never go out of line.



Kevin Eckstrom

Chief Public Affairs Officer

  • architecture