About the book

This is the only publication that has revealed the meanings behind the bizarre hand cut stone carvings on Yale's Gothic campus buildings. Whether satirical, serious, or comical, they all make us stop and wonder what they mean. Since the early 1900's when the accomplished architect James Gamble Rogers designed them, their mystery has endured. Many of them reveal the "other side" of his very serious personality. They are in fact his "alter ego."

Situated high atop steeples and bell towers, several of these carvings and gargoyles actually require binoculars to be seen clearly. Some are obscured by tree limbs. Many may be described as "Hidden in Plain Sight." The real meanings behind these unusual carvings were difficult to uncover. More than two years of extensive research in Yale's archives, interviews with historians and experts in the architectural field were required to solve the many mysteries of these stone carvings.


The book, "Yale's Hidden Treasures: Mystery of the Gothic Stone Carvings'' is available for $34 including postage and can only be purchased at this secure book ordering website.


There is currently a full-length major motion picture titled "Joanna's Journey" ready to be produced that has its genesis in this book. To view the movie trailer, simply click here. If you have any questions about the book, feel free to contact me at 203-777-3214 or yales.ambiance@frontier.com. Enjoy the book.

10" x 10" book with heavy laminated cover.

The perfect coffee table book, keepsake,
gift or conversation piece.


Michael Stern and his talented contributors have revealed and brought to life parts of Yale rarely seen lest understood. In a coffee shop discussion with Michael at Book Traders on Chapel Street located in the heart of the Art & Architecture, Drama, and Museum sections of Yale, it was suggested to Michael that this work had a great deal of similarity to the wonderful “Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. “Why” one would immediately proclaim?! Michael himself was delighted to hear of such a thing but wanted to hear more. First of all like Sargent Pepper’s this book has many layers to it. One listen to Sargent Pepper’s or one look at the album cover just will not get it done. This is very much the case with “Hidden Treasures”. There is just a whole lot in this book that one can discover and wonder upon as not all the answers are found within the pictures and associated scripts. It is “Alice in Wonderlandesque”.


Among the many stories told and untold are those of some of Yale’s most significant students, benefactors, and of those that designed and sculpted the stone images and the buildings themselves. As an example, upon discovering through the text of explanations as to who are the persons sculpted into Harkness Tower, one could easily spend hours at Wikipedia and beyond so as to understand the lives and contributions to the world at large of the 8 quite significant Yalies. And, who would not be interested in further understanding the art(s) of the stone carving process or of the lives of the immigrants who came to America to perform this art and find freedom in return.


Leaving behind Harkness Tower and the depictions of actual Yalies, one finds that the multitude of sculptures found about the Law School allow for rather wide open interpretations as to the what and why for many of the inclusions. And for those that have no love of lawyers and politicians, there is plenty to look at and laugh about on the building of one of America’s most famous Law Schools! When one catches a glimpse of the “lawyer’s client with a donkey for a head” just imagine how that sculpture made it past the drawing board??!! Moving onto New Haven’s history the sculptures tell a tale of peaceful dealings between settlers and the local American Indian Tribe while also revealing a darker side of relations. How many know that like Manhattan in 1643 New Haven’s land was willingly sold by the Quinnipiac Indian Tribe to New Haven’s earliest settlers. For those of us that went to Yale my bet is that many of us did not know and still do not fully know of the history of our dorms, colleges and many of the buildings on campus. Time spent mining the script and pictures within “Hidden Treasures” will reward and provide one with an excellent platform to leap into a further understanding of the Yale campus and its history. Beware, one will discover that despite its founding in 1701 many many of Yale’s buildings are actually 100 or less years old.


Whether you did or did not attend Yale, had/have a relative attend Yale, work(ed) at Yale, live in the greater New Haven community or around the world, this is a work that is worth sinking time into for anyone. A warning this is not a quick read or flip through just to look briefly at pictures. Suggestion, first look through all the pictures without reading any text, then read the text while selectively going back and forth to various pictures. Allow yourself at anytime to divert from the book to outside material on any topic you find intriguing. This is a view and review again joy to own; take your time…


If there were a manual on how to explore Yale, boy would this need to be in there. Finally, do come back to Yale and see in person all within this wonderful work and so much more that is Yale.


P.S. There is just one thing lacking and that is an included CD soundtrack of music to listen to as one digs into this compendium. And, yes it would be wonderful if the characters could speak their mind. Finally, it is my humble suggestion that Yale needs to sponsor an undergraduate level seminar on Yale and that this work of art be compulsory reading. Students from EVERY academic discipline should then be allowed to apply for admission to the seminar.

A. Carlyle Frank “Ace”

Yale College 1972 JE B.A. Multi-Disciplinary Major,

Minor in Ice Hockey

University of Pennsylvania, University of Vermont, Villanova

University and The Stanford Graduate School of Business




What a wonderful idea! The architect of Gothic Yale not only copied the solemnities of the style, but the carnivalesque nose-thumbing as well. Anyone who knows and loves Yale will have glimpsed a few of these — and here's a book that tells how they got there and why.

John Crowley

Senior Lecturer, Creative Writing

English Department,

Yale University




I thoroughly enjoyed this well researched book that revealed the influence of religion on early education at Yale University. Interspersed with satire and humor, I found it to be a very entertaining and enlightening book.

Father John Poulos

(B.A. 1952)




I've walked through the Yale campus for years and was unaware of the scope and magnitude of the University's architectural design until I read this book. It's a fascinating and authoritative page turner filled with humor and compelling insight. Highly recommended reading.

Joel Vetsch





Much of life is spend hurrying to our next appointment, or burying ourselves too deeply in our work that we do not take time to observe the beauty created around us, both natural and man made. This book walks us through the fascinating architecture and sculpture that is part of Yale's history and landscape. It illuminates the imagination and makes you wonder what stories the creators were attempting to tell the future generations of leaders that were to walk Yale's hallowed grounds. Take this trip with the author and photographer and feel free to make up your own stories and imagine mysteries that might have been.

Laurie Harkness, PhD, CPRP

Clinical Professor in Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine




Thanks for thinking of me. Seems like a fun project. Best of luck with the publishing.

Garry Trudeau

(MFA 1973)

Creator of the Doonesbury Comic Strip




Gorgeous, enigmatic, sometimes surprising, sometimes hilarious: this book is just like the famous carvings themselves. Stern reveals the forgotten history sitting perched above the streets that a thousand people walk each day. This is a tale told with extensive research and exquisite photographs. I'll never look at campus the same way again.

Duff Morton

TC '00"




Yale's Hidden Treasures is a rare work: a discerning and articulate guide to the stone carvings that give Yale's campus so much of its charm.  Michael Stern teaches us how to look more attentively at architectural details that matter.  His book is witty, erudite and a sheer pleasure to read.

Masha Shpolberg

Princeton Class of 2010

Yale Graduate School Class of 2019 and Phd candidate




Mr. Stern:  I live in downtown New Haven, cut through the Yale campus almost every day but over the years have only noticed a few of those stone carvings.  I heard about your book and decided to buy it.  I never knew how many carvings there are on those buildings or what they really mean.  I don't buy many books but I'm glad I bought this one!

Jim Szeles

U.S. Marine Corps (retired)




As a native New Havener, like yourself, and from a Yale family, I always wondered about the gargoyles.  Now I will have the opportunity to find out about them.  I will keep your beautiful book on my coffee table and cherish it.

Carolyn Kone

Attorney at Law



Yale's Hidden Treasures
Ask The Author

Phone: 203-777-3214

358 Orange St., Suite 404 New Haven, CT 06511, Located Adjacent to Yale Campus


The book, "Yale's Hidden Treasures: Mystery of the Gothic Stone Carvings'' is available for $34 including postage and can only be purchased at