Joseph Robaldo Frazee and Vitruvius Frazee, 1901-02
Master mason and sculptor Joseph Robaldo Frazee and his son Vitruvius Frazee carved the 12 creatures in 1901 and 1902. The cottonwood limestone statues, each 44 inches tall, resemble the gargoyles used on medieval buildings to disguise drainpipes; the Dyche creatures are “grotesques,” because they lack the pipe and spout that permit gargoyles to function as drains.
The Frazees also carved the friezes of fantastic animals and plants and the other decorative stone elements on the Venetian Romanesque building, which was designed by Kansas City architects Walter C. Root and George W. Siemens.
Three grotesques have words from KU’s signature chant engraved on plaques on their chests: on the southwest side, the words “Rock Chalk” and the date 1873, the year the first university class graduated; on the left above the front entrance, “Jayhawk” and a question mark, unexplained; and on right above the front entrance, “KU.”
Four of the originals were removed when a Dyche addition was built in 1962, and one was lost; the three others were restored in 1996 by Lawrence sculptor John Swift and are in the administrative offices on the sixth floor of Dyche Hall. One of these, resembling a lion, has the word “Kansas” engraved on a banner on its chest.