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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mountain View: A Cemetery Greets its Public


Let's visit some of the public places at Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum. I took this photo inside the Pasadena Mausoleum, which I never knew was on the grounds. Even if I had, I wouldn't have thought I could visit inside. This building is at the southern end of the cemetery, almost at Woodbury Avenue. I wish my photos could do it justice. Let me just say, Carrara marble. Everywhere.


Denans may be more familiar with the Mountain View Mausoleum, located between Alameda and Sacramento Streets across Marengo Avenue from the Cemetery. This seemingly endless building leads you along dark galleries or those brightly lit by stained glass, up (or down) flights of stairs, through twists and turns to rooftop patios...you can spend a lot of time here. With its columns, sconces and painted ceilings, it makes a fancy location for concerts and art shows.

Why is that okay, you wonder? Do the Denish flip the bird at death?

Take another look at the first two photos. What's missing?

Flowers.

There are a few spots left, but many of the most recent interments in these buildings are early- to mid-20th century. The descendants are gone. Maybe the occasional great grandchild comes to visit. But ask me where my great grandparents are buried. I have no idea.

You can't just empty out these buildings, but you can find new uses for them. That's why Unbound Productions performs the hugely popular Wicked Lit at Mountain View every October. It's why films and TV shows are shot here. It's why all of this is okay, though owner Jay Brown still requires, expects, and receives respect for this place his family has owned for 120 years, and for those who are buried here.

You can visit the cemetery itself 365 days a year, between 8am and 5pm. The Pasadena Mausoleum and Mountain View Mausoleum are open 9-4 weekdays and 10-3 on Sunday.

I've shown you so little of it.

17 comments:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I think u did pretty well w/your photos! the last 3 are very striking and have drama and emotion...The mausoleum at ours is in marble as well... is there a reason they are built w/marble? The last photo has two interpretations (for me) the bereaved and also the ones passing on...

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, KBF. I don't know the answer to the marble question, but I would guess it holds symbolism for endurance, time, forever. Marble is often used for grave stones, too.

Fernando Santos (Chana) said...

Excelentes fotografias....
Cumprimentos

LONDONLULU said...

Wow, these area all amazing. There's something about cemeteries and mausoleums I find fascinating and touching. Especially when they're old enough that, as you noticed, one wonders if descendants know about it anymore...

Trish said...

Every time I am in town, I visit my mother and her family whom are in the ground, not the mausoleum portion. However, I will admit, most every visit I have seen filming taking place, though every time, quite respectful, IMO. More than once I have seen a funeral scene in a film or TV and said "hey, Mom's over there behind so-and-so's right shoulder!". I think the only surprising one was a school bus parked not far from where my mother is laid to rest, but they always are respectful of those of us who visit the grounds.

The mausoleum at Mtn View is similar to others built across CA of the same era. The marble was looked at as a "health requirement" at one time--concrete of the time wasn't long term stable, marble was and thus, anything that might ooze out of them would stay within the crypts. Also had to do with not burying family in a rinky-dink grave. Put them behind marble and let them lay in luxury for eternity! Am sure there are other reasons too, depending on location.

Petrea Burchard said...

Gracias, Fernando.

Lulu, I agree. "Touching" is a good word. I found myself happy to be there, and soothed by the place. I think that's what it's all for.

Interesting, Trish! I hadn't thought of that.

-K- said...

Wonderful photos.

And Mountain View seems much fancier than Hollywood Forever's mausoleums.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I love this place. It's where Mr V's parents are interned <--- is that what they call it when your ashes is a drawer? My great grandparents are buried at the Inglewood cemetery though I've yet to visit. I've heard their graves are at a low point and soaked in water. Maybe in summer

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, K. I've never been to Hollywood Forever. Seems everyone else has.

PA, at least you know where they are. The word is "interred," unless they are eager, unpaid assistants. But you give me ideas of a ghostly intern.

Laura Monteros said...

Wonderful photo essay, Petrea! I have only been in the mausoleum for Wicked Lit, and it was scary as...well.

Marble is also transluscent. The Beineke Rare Book Library at Yale uses it instead of windows, because the sunlight comes through but not enough to damage the collection.

Latino Heritage said...

Great series. Love that a descendant of the first English speaking folks was your tour guide. The attention to detail you gently share is part of what makes this a fine read.

Latino Heritage said...

Great series. Love that a descendant of the first English speaking folks was your tour guide. The attention to detail you gently share is part of what makes this a fine read.

Bellis said...

I like the old man looking at Jay and John in the last photo. I thought he was real at first.

How come the Altadenans got a fancier mausoleum than the Pasadenans?

Petrea Burchard said...

Laura, you remind me of my college roomate Lyndal. We used to love to share what we called Interesting Facts. Translucent marble would fit the category.

Thank you, Roberta.

The old man is a bust of Cato, Bellis. You'll find him at the very top of the MV Mausoleum.

The only mausoleum I know of in Pasadena is this one.

Katie said...

I never would have guessed there would be so much marble and gorgeous painted ceilings and stained glass! Definitely a place I'd like to visit. Good that they've found an additional source of revenue in film work.

Ms M said...

This is an excellent photo essay series! What an amazing place! The last three photos of this set really grab me, especially the last one with the "watchman" gazing down the hallway.

Petrea Burchard said...

It really is a lovely place. I'm glad you like the photos.