Harder Mausoleum

Most mausoleum interiors tend to be rather pedestrian storehouses for the departed. The Harder mausoleum, which was built by W. W. Leland Studios, might fit that description save for interesting juxtaposition of the crypts. Rather than being flat to the wall they protrude out at a 45-degree angle. The cross-hatched window echoes the angular pattern. The mausoleum’s first permanent guest was Victor Achilles Harder (August 15, 1847-August 9, 1914). Victor Harder was born in Manhattan but lived almost all his life in Brooklyn. While still a youth he was employed by Mayor, Lane and Company and later bought the company. He seemed to have a talent for buying and developing companies. He was the president of the Powhatan Brass and Iron Works in West Virginia and the Essex Foundry in Newark and was a director of the Connecticut Tobacco Corporation. He was best known as the founder of the Victor A. Harder Real Estate and Construction Company in Brooklyn. Subsequent generations of Harders continue to use the mausoleum.

Victor Harder’s business ventures received the usual amount of attention in the local papers, but one of his daughter’s exploits cause a bit more attention than the wealthy family wanted. On November 10, 1910 the New York Times reported that Harder’s seventeen-year old daughter Hortense had been caught smuggling. Smuggling? It seems that young Hortense was returning from her studies in Europe and accidentally forgot to declare that in her trunks she had seven new designer gowns. An innocent enough mistake, one might suppose, but an inspection of Hortense’s handbag revealed labels that had been removed from the dresses, no doubt to elude customs inspectors about the garments’ provenance. Not so, claimed Hortense. She said she had removed the labels, not to evade paying customs duties but so her friends couldn’t find out where the gowns were made and order the same one. After all, Hortense’s coming out party was being scheduled and it would be absolutely devastating for another girl to have the same gown. Somehow it was all worked out. An $800 customs fine was paid and young Hortense didn’t wind up with a criminal record. On January 20, 1911, Hortense made her debut in a spectacular Paris gown. Whether the label had been sewn back on is not known.
Text and photo © Douglas Keister Visit Doug’s Author Page

[address cemetery=”Green-Wood Cemetery” street=”Willow Avenue” city=”Brooklyn” state=”New York” zip=”11218″]

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