The Legacy of Ransom Eli Olds


Throughout his life, Ransom Eli Olds received recognition, awards, and accolades. Perhaps best known for founding the Oldsmobile Motor Company, Olds also started or helped to arrange several other companies, from parts suppliers to banks. Olds was also the first person to make use of an assembly line for the production of his automobiles. Henry Ford automated the assembly line some time later. Though Ransom E. Olds departed this life 64 years ago, his death has not disqualified him from current recognition and award.

Preservation Lansing, recognizing the recent repairs and renovations to the Olds Mausoleum in Lansing’s Mt. Hope Cemetery, entertained a nomination for the stately structure in the category “Non-Residential Project Costing Less Than $1 Million”. The specificity of the category was appreciated by Olds’ great-granddaughter Debbie Stephens, who along with her two sisters paid for the repair and restoration of the mausoleum.

“Non-residential – I like that,” she said. “It does have residents, but…”

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2000 Year Old Mausoleum to Receive $3 Million for Restoration in Creative Trade


I can’t count the number of times that, when I tell people about my appreciation of mausoleums and cemeteries, I hear, “What a waste of money. What are they good for? People ought to be assigning money in their wills toward art and things that benefit humanity.”

After they have finished their all-things-funerary diatribe, I pause to collect my thoughts. Then, with one eye closed and eyebrow raised, I ask them what they think about the Pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India, the Terra-cotta Warriors in China, Westminster Abbey in England, and the Pantheon in Rome. As I continue to rattle off well-known mausoleums and burial locations around the world, they usually hold up their hand imploring me to stop. They get my point. The fact is many of the most popular tourist destinations in the world are mausoleums. They are not only a testament to the entombed person but timestamps that often tell us, in great detail, what the architectural and social mores were at the time they were constructed.

The latest permutation of the staying power of mausoleums is that one of them has now become a bargaining chip: the restoration of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome for art. Augustus was the first emperor of Rome. He ruled as emperor for 41 years, dying at age 75 in 14 AD.

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Famous Bedroom Modeled After Taj Mahal Now Open to the Public


Mausoleums are beautiful buildings and hallowed sanctuaries for the souls residing therein. Their quiet solemnity and dignified architecture can be more than beautiful buildings, some are even world famous shrines built for those who have passed before us. With the care and craftsmanship dedicated to these structures, it’s no surprise that some could become fixated on these monuments. For instance, Doris Duke, a famed Islamic art enthusiast and tobacco heiress, modeled a bathroom and bedroom suite in her Hawaii home after the most famous mausoleum of all — the Taj Mahal.

According to a story by the Associated Press, Duke became fixated with the Taj Mahal during her ten-month long honeymoon there in the 1930s. She later had the bathroom and bedroom suite in her Honolulu home, called Shangri La, modeled after the famed mausoleum. In fact, Shangri La has been acting as a museum to house Duke’s extensive collection of Islamic and Middle Eastern art and has been open to the public since 2002. The Taj Mahal-inspired suite was previously closed, however, due to repairs to the roof above it. These private chambers are now open to the public and will act as a sort of tribute to a building which stands thousands of miles away.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales

A final resting place is hallowed ground to be approached with an air of solemnity and a reverence for the individual who is buried or interred. We use these memorials as a way to quietly reflect on the lives of our loved ones. For these reasons and more, the recent act of Richard Hall of Spokane Valley, WA is unthinkable and abhorrent to most.

Hall, aged 30, was recently arrested by local police for the destruction of property and theft of small valuables from inside an area mausoleum. Detectives were able to track Hall down thanks to the presence of his fingerprints in the defaced memorial as well as security surveillance video shot during the crime. 

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Mausoleum in Saline, Michigan Celebrates 100th Anniversary


The Oakwood Cemetery mausoleum, built a century ago, is celebrating the milestone with a special ceremony last Sunday, according to the Saline Reporter. The structure has become one of Saline, Michigan’s historic landmarks and houses the remains of dozens of individuals interred throughout the last century.

The mausoleum dates back to 1913, when the Saline Observer reported that J.W. Flowers of Toledo, Ohio had purchased land at the Oakwood Cemetery in order to construct a brand new mausoleum. The cemetery handled the mausoleum design and construction, while Flowers was tasked with the sale of available mausoleum chambers. The mausoleum is comprised of 88 burial chambers, with a South Wall that holds 44 families and a North Wall that holds another 23 families. A number of local residents are interred within the mausoleum with their spouses or family members, the oldest of whom, John Hull, was born in 1842.

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Stanford Mausoleum: A Memento Mori Comes To Life


In the spring of 1884, railroad magnet Leland Stanford and his wife Jane lost their son Leland Jr. to typhoid. The grieving parents decided to found a university in Leland Jr.’s memory. Using the land intended for their country estate’s home and garden, the Stanfords built a university for the future of others’ children. A Mausoleum to inter the remains of young Leland Stanford, Jr. and his parents was included in the grounds design.

The campus’s Mission Revival buildings were designed by the Boston based architect, Charles Allerton Coolidge. New York’s Central Park creator, Frederick Law Olmsted was commissioned as the landscape architect for the coeducational campus. Originally meant to be the cynosure of the university’s layout, the Stanford mausoleum was finally erected in the northwest of the campus, surrounded by the arboretum and Arizona Cactus Garden. At the behest of Mrs. Stanford, two Greek sphinxes were erected to guard the entrance of the mausoleum. However, the bare breasted female figures were deemed inappropriate and moved to the back of the building. They were replaced by two male, Egyptian-style sphinxes.

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Mausoleum Art Exhibition Brings Back Figures of The Gilded Age


One of the most famous cemeteries in the country is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a spectacular art party. As reported by the New York Times, the Bronx’s Woodlawn Cemetery is exhibiting its Gilded Age tombs at Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, starting on Sept. 3: “Sylvan Cemetery: Architecture, Art and Landscape at Woodlawn.”

The exhibit features mausoleum artwork, furniture, stained glass, ironwork, and sculptures from the Gilded Age period (1870s to 1900). Curators of the exhibition took extra steps contextualize the pieces, including researching tomb designers and tomb inhabitants and reaching out to descendants of the deceased individuals entombed at Woodlawn.

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Armand Hammer Family Mausoleum Overview


The American-born entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political power player, Armand Hammer (May 21, 1898 – December 10, 1990), is best known for founding Occidental Petroleum, a company he helmed for several decades.

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The Last Link to a Bygone Era: Civil War Mausoleum To Be Restored


It’s difficult to envision a cemetery that was once “the center of town life,” but the grounds at Zion Chapel on Hilton Head Island (off the coast of South Carolina) was just that. The cemetery was the heart of the island’s settlements in the pre-Civil War period until Union soldiers invaded in 1861 and was the final resting place of numerous Civil War soldiers.

The cemetery has weathered the last 165 years, but now its historic Banyard Mausoleum is on the brink of collapsing, and the Heritage Library Foundation hopes to raise $175,000 for renovations. The group intends to preserve the historic antebellum architecture of the structure, which is the island’s oldest and only surviving building from the Civil War period. It houses the remains of affluent planter William Eddings Banyard and his family. The marble-covered crypt holds 21 burial chambers that are still intact, though only seven people were interred within.

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2,100 Year-Old Royal Mausoleum Discovered in China


Archaeologists recently discovered the 2,100 year-old tomb of Chinese King Liu Fei, who died in 128 BC. The mountaintop excavation, which took two years, unearthed 10,000 artifacts made of gold, silver, bronze, and jade.

As befitting a ruler known for “extreme arrogance and luxury,” according to historians, Liu Fei entered the afterlife in grand style. Replete with all the treasures of the ancient world, his mausoleum offers a glimpse of his luxurious lifestyle, boasting:

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