Five of eight gargoyles — yes, gargoyles — were stolen from Butte’s new Uptown parking garage, probably sometime over this past weekend.
The gargoyles, designed specifically for the garage, were mounted on benches just outside the four-story structure as “protectors of the building and all of the occupants,” the county said in an email late Wednesday morning.
“These gargoyles are special and unique,” it said. The garage opened last month with parking free through at least April 1.
They were purposefully mounted on the seat portion of the benches with a screw and adhesive to discourage people from sleeping or skateboarding on them, officials said. They measure about 4 inches high by 3 inches wide.
One gargoyle was recently removed because it was loose, but five others are now missing and were probably taken over the weekend, said Butch Harrington, Butte-Silver Bow’s parking enforcement supervisor.
He filed a police report and as of midday Wednesday, Sheriff Ed Lester said officers didn’t have any suspects or leads.
The gargoyles cost $160 each and were designed by Jeff Kanning of Collaborative Design Architects, the architects for the garage itself. The design is meant to resemble a Gaelic gargoyle, reflecting Butte’s Irish heritage.
They were forged at Billings Bronze in Billings, but the foundry burned down earlier this year so the county can’t get more. And because of the thefts, the county is going to remove the remaining two so they don’t get stolen.
There were no surveillance cameras on the garage but in light of the thefts and for other public safety reasons, there would be soon, said Community Development Director Karen Byrnes.
Lester said officers plan to check with nearby businesses to see if they have video footage, but Harrington said that might be a long shot. He said the benches are situated behind a wall so they are hard to see when looking straight at the garage from Park Street.
“These were made specifically for the garage,” he said.
Anyone with information about their whereabouts or who may have taken them should either contact police, Karen Byrnes at 406-497-6467 or Harrington at 406-497-6273.