I belong to a wonderful group on Facebook called Mansions of the Gilded Age. Last month, I asked some of my fellow group members whether they knew of any gargoyles on Gilded Age homes. They came back with quite a few great examples, including the Turnblad Mansion in Minneapolis. Commissioned by Swedish-born newspaper publisher Swan Turnblad and his wife Christina in 1903, the house was designed by architects Christopher Boehme and Victor Cordella in the Chateauesque style. Popular in America and Canada at the time, Chateauesque got its name from the French country homes it emulated.
Always keen to honor their homeland, the Turnblads donated the mansion to the American Swedish Institute in 1929; it is unclear whether they were also the institute’s founders. The American Swedish Institute still operates in the Turnblad Mansion and other buildings today, with a mission “to share experiences around themes of culture, migration, the environment and the arts, informed by enduring links to Sweden”.
The Turnblad Mansion is home to several true gargoyles (as opposed to non-functional grotesques). It appears that the creature shown above was pressed into service as the ring bearer at a wedding held in the mansion. In the exterior view of this Swedish-American answer to Cinderella’s castle, you can see the profiles of several other gargoyles projecting from the corners of the front and side porticos.
So many thanks to Mansions of the Gilded Age TJ Bren for introducing me to this beautiful house and gargoyles!