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When demolition started last week for the Seattle Mercer Arts Arena, crews weren't sure what they would find underneath the 1960s facade of the Seattle Center building.
On Thursday, the mystery was solved when crews razed a portion of a brick wall built in 1961 and revealed a surprise: the original facade of the 1928 Civic Arena.
"In perfect condition," said KIRO Radio historian Feliks Banel, who had stopped to watch. "I mean the glass was gone, but these arches were there, big medallions over the doorway and then, as they got farther and father down toward the street, I could see the wings and head of a gargoyle."
Then, he says, he got a sick feeling in his stomach as the crew promptly destroyed two gargoyles they uncovered. "They smashed them both."
Banel doesn't blame the construction workers. He says it's not their job to decide what to save.
"Unfortunately, the decision was made, it appears, without all the information about what was actually there."
Demolition unearths gargoyles, historic Seattle Center building
Banel says the Seattle Opera company, which is tearing down the building, and a firm hired to evaluate the building, thought nothing significant remained from the 1928 structure. But then, the historian made a discovery. Banel took at look at the consultant's report, which included the original blueprint.
"There's four gargoyles there!"
He quickly contacted Seattle Opera, which found and saved the two remaining gargoyles.
"At least they won't be plucked off their pedestals and smashed the way the first two were."
He says they will likely be donated to the city and put on display.