The truth behind the myth: Why does a gargoyle sit atop Amasa Stone Chapel?

As you’ve probably seen, the tower of Amasa Stone Chapel is adorned on three sides with smiling angels, while the west side features a gargoyle. So just why is that gargoyle atop the chapel? As it turns out, many of you have heard the legend—or some variation on it.

The story, which is one of the most persistent legends concerning Case Western Reserve, says that the trustees of Western Reserve University put the gargoyle on the side of the chapel facing the campus of Case School of Applied Science, its rival. Their reason for doing so, according to the legend (and explained in the Little Blue Book)? It was the trustees’ belief that Leonard Case Jr., who founded Case School, was an atheist.

In reality, it likely was just an architectural style. Boston architect Henry Vaughan based the design of the chapel on English medieval churches, where it was common to place a gargoyle on the dark—or west—side of the building.