One significant site in Salem that seems to languish and may not get enough love is the Mount Crest Abbey Mausoleum in City View Cemetery. Designed by one of Oregon's most important architects, it is nevertheless off the beaten path.
The promise for the mausoleum was "a better way," more scientific and civilized.
|December 20th, 1913|
From the ad:
That we, in this twentieth century, are becoming broader and more progressive in our views, not only in respect to those things which concern life, but death, is indicated the growing sentiment in favor a more scientific way of burying our dead. This is quite as it should be, for we have much to learn from ancients to the disposition of the the remains of our loved ones, and who shall say that burying in the ground is more civilized than placing the dead in the boughs of trees, as the American Indians did before they adopted the ways of the white man? At least, out on the plains and in the depths of the untrod forests, the mortal remains were placed in more agreeable surroundings than under the ground exposed to the ravages of vermin and permitting the chemical decomposition with results directly at variance with the efforts of the living to place the bodies of the dead in decent, not to say luxurious, habiliments.The idea of a "community mausoleum," contrasted with the "private" and family mausoleums already existing down the hill in the Pioneer (Odd Fellows) Cemetery, and elsewhere around the country and world, seems to have been a new one. A trade article from 1929 suggests the idea arose in 1907, a half-decade before the planning would have started here. The community mausoleums were also, apparently, in many ways a new product line extension, and the writer of the piece "always believed that a cemetery was a business enterprise, not a philanthropic institution."
[A]ll dangers of contagion by the living visiting the burial place of the dead, as is the case in cemeteries are absolutely eliminated. Each crypt is equipped with drain pipes through which the gases are conducted to the disinfecting receptacle to to be purified before being released into the open air.
These beautiful mausoleums may, therefore, be visited as freely as desired, and in all kinds of weather.
They are sold just the same as real estate, title being given without taxes or assessments. The purchaser is given a key and permitted free access at all times, and from the sale of each compartment a certain amount is set aside to provide an annual income sufficient to maintain the building in first class condition.
|Ellis F. Lawrence - UO|
Curiously, the mausoleum is not included as a "local landmark" or is listed on the National Register. Though seven governors, many mayors, and lots of other local notables are interred here, officially the City of Salem does not seem to regard it as historically important. Perhaps City View Cemetery has not been interested in listing it. Either way, it's an interesting omission.
|Former Mayor and State Legislator Thomas Livesley|
is interred here in a large family crypt
Livesley Photo: Oregon State Library
|Povey Bros Glass?|
|Optimism: Plans for a Thousand Years|
Hon. H.L. Stevens, mayor of Salem, acted as chairman of the day and made the introductory remarks. After outlining the idea and purpose of the community mausoleum, Mr. Steeves went on to say that many people had a horror of the damp mouldering grave and that as a result modern people had copied from the ancients and yearly more mausoleums were being dedicated in all the principal cities of the United States.Recently you may have seen the story about the Eugene funeral home that offers a bamboo casket and tricycle hearse. It is interesting to see how funeral customs continue to evolve.
The famous mausoleums of antiquity are standing in a good state of preservation today, and although in those days their use was limited to royalty, the remains of the ancient kings were consigned to a much more sanitary resting place than the great majority of the present day dead. Modern mausoleums, however, are constructed to last as well as did the mausoleums of the ancients, and the prices charged for crypts are within the reach of the common people's pocketbooks.
There are many other 19th century cemeteries scattered around Marion and Polk counties. If you're out for a bike ride, pick one that is public and make a visit.
For the weekend, here's contemporary music from an American Original. "Decoration Day," the second movement, completed in 1912, of Charles Ives' Holidays Symphony.