Made in CNY: Local business gives new life to hotel gargoyles

Vallar's Tile and Marble tasked to make replicas of historical gargoyles

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - They’ve watched over the Salt City for 92 years.

The Marriot Syracuse Downtown, formerly Hotel Syracuse, has tasked Vallar’s Tile and Marble with re-creating the lion and unicorn gargoyles that have sat on top of the historic building for decades.

Victor Vallar says he’s “honored” to be a part of bringing the gargoyles back to life with eight new replicas.

“We had to put re-rod pins in just so the concrete would have something to stick to, so it stayed together.” It’s a lot of work, over two weeks on this.”

Alongside Vallar, Central New York sculptors Ray Colaruotolo and Duke Epolito are lending helping hands on the project.

Drivers heading west on 690 can catch some of Epolito’s work — the plaster statues that represent people waiting to catch the next train.

The original gargoyles were made of concrete and each weighed 4,000 pounds.

This time around, the gargoyles will be made of fiber glass and have a thin layer of concrete to give it a look of limestone.

Now, each will weigh in at 150 pounds and the new material will make them more durable in what seems to be sometimes unforgiving Syracuse weather.

Vallar says restoring the two remaining gargoyles has been the process.

“You build, then you take it off, until you find the right shape,” Vallar explained.

The bottom portion of one of the unicorns was missing in addition to the lion’s ears that broke off.

Each gargoyle needed to be restored before the sculpting team could create a rubber molding of each figure — a delicate process.

“We put the first layer of rubber on,” Vallar explained. “When the rubber doesn’t come off on your finger the next layer is ready to be put on, so right now, it’s still drying and it’s not ready.”

After the crew applies four layers of rubber, they will pour a layer of Plaster of Paris, crack it open and pour the molding.

Vallar says his family-owned company is also doing granite and marble work on the front desk of the hotel and the exterior.

The Marriot Syracuse Downtown plans to re-install the eight gargoyles by March or April. The hotel has not yet announced what they will do with the two original gargoyles. 


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