Ghirardelli Mausoleum


If you wanted a final statement about how wealthy you were in the San Francisco Bay Area, you chose a site Millionaires Row in Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery. Domingo Ghirardelli, whose name has become synonymous with fine chocolates, made such a choice. On the right is the Ghirardelli family mausoleum.

The Ghirardelli family plot was originally at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, adjacent to Mountain View. According to local legend, Domingo Ghirardelli’s young granddaughter, Aurelia, became gravely ill in 1879 and a priest refused to give her last rites (the speculation was that the Ghirardelli family was behind in their tithe payments). Thus, young Aurelia died without receiving the sacraments. This so irritated Ghirardelli that he forbade any members of his family to enter a Catholic church again.

In 1890, Domingo Ghirardelli had the mausoleum in the photograph constructed at Mountain View. Then, one night, he and his sons took a wagon to St. Mary’s Cemetery, removed the four bodies from the Ghirardelli tomb, transported and reinterred them at Mountain View. As a further slap in the face of the Catholic Church, Ghirardelli had a most un-Catholic Masonic emblem carved above the mausoleum’s entrance.

Note the hourglass with wings emblem beneath the mourning woman sculpture. This graphically symbolizes that time flies, so live life to the fullest, while you have it. The severe lines of the structure are essentially Egyptian Revival, especially the battered shape of the entry. The Ghirardelli mausoleum is essentially a pedestal for the weeping woman sculpture rather than a fully realized building.
Text and photo © Douglas Keister Visit Doug’s Author Page

[address cemetery=”Mountain View Cemetery” street=”” city=”Oakland” state=”California” zip=”94611″]

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