Gargoyles: A Gothic symbol of protection
Gargoyles first appeared in the 12th century as prominent features of Gothic architecture, commonly seen on Christian cathedrals. Practically, they helped prevent corrosion of edifices by redirecting rainwater through spouts on their bodies. However, due to their prevalence on the outside of churches, gargoyles soon came to be recognized as symbols of protection. Their fierce, sometimes frightening countenances were said to scare away evil spirits from church grounds and shield the faithful attendees. It was believed that, although they were still during the day, they would break free of their stone exteriors at night to fulfill their guardian duties, returning to their stationary posts by sunrise.
Some people still thought of them as demons and viewed them with suspicion, but for the most part, they were welcomed by the public. As centuries passed, this belief migrated from Europe to America and branched out from only churches displaying gargoyles to general buildings like residential constructions featuring these grotesque statues.