Web tour: Design New England: The art of the weathervane

Rooster with a view. Follow the link to see this image on a KHS note card.Ever wonder why so many weathervanes feature roosters? Do roosters have special knowledge of or interest in wind direction? I had long figured it was some agrarian tradition. Not so. Bruce Irving writes in the March/April 2012 issue of Design New England that according to legend, in the ninth century, Pope Nicholas I “decreed that all church weathervanes would thenceforth be roosters, a reference to Christ’s prediction that, before the cock crowed the morning after the last supper, his apostle Peter would thrice deny knowing him.” The rooster theme eventually spread far beyond churches to secular belfries, barns, and gazebos, as well.

Many, over the years, have chosen to veer from the rooster weathervane tradition and embrace all manner of creature to signal wind direction. There’s the grasshopper by Shem Drowne atop Faneuil Hall, the dove of peace (originally) by Joseph Rakestraw at Mount Vernon, and the shark by Travis Tuck on Quint’s shanty in “Jaws”. Okay, the shark weathervane never made an actual appearance in the film, but it did get metal sculptor Travis Tuck designing and creating one-of-a-kind weather vanes. Tuck passed away in 2002, but the business he began thrives today as Tuck & Holand Metal Sculptors. What fun it would be to commission a custom weathervane, perhaps of a wire-haired Dachshund, or a Banks Dory, or a trowel. What type of weathervane would you commission? Let me know at the KHS Facebook Page.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast