Gwin Mausoleum


The Gwin Mausoleum is one of two pyramid mausolea at Mountain View Cemetery. Egyptian Style architecture is pure funerary, since much of the architecture of ancient Egypt was somehow connected with death and the afterlife. The obvious pagan references of the Egyptian style were bothersome to Christians, so tomb builders frequently added Christian symbols to the mausoleum. Sometimes a Christian angel replaced a pagan sphinx or a crucifix or other Christian symbol was incorporated in the design.

The Gwin pyramid uses rusticated stone in contrast to the smooth forms of the gateway entry and base. The gateway includes pylon-like battered forms and a cavetto cornice (flared with curve). The only deviation from the Egyptian style is the Greco-Roman pediment on top of the entry.

William McKendree Gwin (1805-1885), a native of Tennessee, held a number of minor federal offices during the presidencies of Jackson and Polk. In 1849, along with many other Americans, he ventured to California via the Isthmus of Panama. Within three months of his arrival, this persuasive and ambitious man became a delegate to the state constitutional convention held in Monterey, California in September, 1849. At the convention Gwin argued successfully that California ought to be a state rather than a territory. To complete his meteoric political rise he was elected, along with John C. Fremont, to the post of United States senator in December, 1849, 10 months before California formally became a state.
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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