Irvin Mausoleum


Noted Louisville architect Henry Whitestone designed this modified Gothic Revival mausoleum for James F. Irvin in 1867. Whitestone drew his inspiration from the Greffulhe family mausoleum designed by A.T. Brongniart ca.1816, in Pére Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. A description of the Irvin mausoleum appeared in the April 16, 1871, edition of The Louisville Daily Commercial . The newspaper described the “Scotch granite” columns, dome and exterior walls and noted the different varieties of marble used on the interior surfaces. The newspaper went on to describe the crypts as, “four depositories for coffins, with marble doors, awaiting their inmates.”

Captain James E. Irvin, (1812-1883) made his fortune as a steamboat captain on the Ohio River. He was also on the cemetery board of Cave Hill Cemetery. This connection no doubt assured him of one of the choice hilltop lots as his burial site. Sharing the mausoleum with Captain Irvin is his wife Florence McHarry and Florence’s father, Frank McHarry.

Frank McHarry was originally buried in a tomb overlooking the Ohio river so, legend has it, he could hurl curses at the passing steamboats. Apparently, McHarry, who operated a ferry service on the river, had a long-standing feud with the steamboats and even in his death wanted the opportunity to voice a ghostly epithet. Another part of the legend has it that McHarry was buried standing up, but such is the stuff of legends. What is true is that his body is now quite horizontal in the Irvin mausoleum, out of earshot of those pesky steamboats.
Text and photo © Douglas Keister Visit Doug’s Author Page

[address cemetery=”Cave Hill Cemetery” street=”701 Baxter Avenue” city=”Louisville” state=”Kentucky” zip=”40204″]

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