An antebellum burial vault, built in 1858 in a restrained classical style. It looks wonderfully ancient and mysterious when you happen on it back in this woodsy section of the cemetery.
In-ground burial vaults like this had gone out of fashion in most of our cemeteries by the late nineteenth century, but there are two later ones in the Highwood Cemetery. This one, with its rustic stone, is indescribably picturesque and looks like a relic of some vanished ancient culture, but it probably dates from about 1880.
The indoor mausoleum in Allegheny Cemetery was built in 1960 (or 1961, according to the Web site). The architects were Harley and Ellington. It’s now called the “Temple of Memories,” and it’s worth a visit even if you don’t like cemeteries all that much. It’s filled with striking stained glass from the Hunt and Willet studios, and it has a considerable collection of paintings by academic painters of the late nineteenth century that were probably nearly worthless when they were donated, but are coming back into fashion again. But what charms Father Pitt most is that the place is a time machine through which one can enter the early 1960s. Even though it has been expanded since then, the whole mausoleum has an early-1960s atmosphere, complete with appropriate piped-in music. One wanders among the dead feeling more like one of them than like one of the living.
We’ll be seeing a selection of pictures of the stained glass in here over the next few days.
The Allegheny Cemetery Mausoleum, or “Temple of Memories” (as the cemetery calls it now), was built in 1960. It is filled with stained glass by the Willet studio of Philadelphia and the Hunt studio of Pittsburgh. The two distinct styles are very different, but Father Pitt does not know which is which.
This Stephen Foster window is the centerpiece of the whole first floor of the mausoleum, which is appropriate. Thousands of rich and important people—politicians, robber barons, and even a few honest philanthropists—are buried in Allegheny Cemetery. But the only resident anyone really cares about is Stephen Foster, who made us dance and sing and weep, and died in poverty. (There is also a small cult of Lillian Russell, and Father Pitt would be delighted to see a Lillian Russell window in some future expansion of the mausoleum.)
This window includes something that delighted old Pa Pitt beyond all reason: the only stained-glass representation he has ever seen of a parlor organ.