Double-headed eagle gateway and God Love You Tower

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    Photo: William Arnett, 1998

Visitors parking directly in front of Margaret’s Grocery will enter the building by passing trough the archway of an imposing structure of bricks and cinder blocks painted red and white with blue trim (and a few touches of yellow). This tower is as close as Dennis’s vision comes to seeking architectural symmetry. The tower, probably inspired by some combination of church facades, quilts, prayer cloths, and the American flag, appears to attest to the architect’s patriotism, in addition to his always conspicuous religious beliefs.

On the street side of the tower is a professionally painted sign advertising “Margaret’s Grocery & Market, Home of the Double Eagle.” A wood cut out of a double-headed eagle crowns the tower, and another decorates its reverse side. Nearby, a tattered American flag flies from a pole embedded in a red, white, and blue concrete base.

But this is not John Philip Sousa’s double eagle, nor is it Francis Scott Key’s flag. “Double-headed” could be interpreted as “two-faced,” and while Dennis gives us a great monument to church and state as an entryway to his home and place of business, he presents a balanced evaluation of both institutions. He points out the strength in unity, but wants everyone to understand the weakness of discord.

Margaret Dennis has her own explanation for the double-headed eagle: “Caesar Augustus and his brother Josephus ancient rulers. One ruled East, one ruled West. Each one had the eagle as a symbol of his power. Caesar Augustus went to war, beat his brother, and put them two eagles back to back, called it a double-headed eagle. It meant that it was a great empire.”

In the center of the bricks that form the tower’s archway, Dennis has planted a keystone-shaped slab of concrete, referred to by Dennis as a “cornerstone.” Unlike its Roman prototype, this undersized keystone is not functional but is purely symbolic, placed there for its concealed message, revealed by Dennis as he points to the “stone”: “Thousands of years ago a stone was cut like that and rejected because it was not square. But Jesus is the cornerstone, the chief cornerstone, rejected back then, and his teachings still rejected. It got to be respected and accepted now. Americans got to return to the truth, got to obey the law.”

The letters B and J adorn the south and north sides of the arch, respectively. They stand for “Boaz” and “Jachin,” names given by King Solomon to the two pillars (south and north) in the vestibule of his temple.