Tag Archives: stained glass window

Cemetery of the Week #170: Resurrection Cemetery

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By MrHarman at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18595013

Resurrection Cemetery
7201 Archer Road
Justice, Illinois 60458
(708) 458-4770
Established: 1904
Size: 540 acres
Number of interments: approximately 158,000
Open: everyday 8 am to 7 pm

On the outskirts of Chicago, in Justice, Illinois, lies the massive Resurrection Cemetery.  It’s the home of Resurrection Mary.

In the early 1930s, blue-eyed Mary had gone dancing with her boyfriend at the Oh Henry ballroom. After they argued, Mary decided to walk home and cool off.  On her way, she was stuck and killed by a car on Archer Avenue. The driver, who fled the scene, was never found.

The first reported sighting of Mary’s ghost was in 1939. Jerry Palus danced with a pretty blond girl, who didn’t talk much, at the Oh Henry Ballroom (named for the candy bar), three miles southwest of the cemetery in Willow Springs. At the end of the evening, Jerry offered her a ride home. On the way to the address she had given him, she vanished from the car.

The next day, when Jerry stopped at the address Mary had given him, her parents told him she had been dead several years.

More than two dozen people have picked Mary up as she walked along Archer Drive. Sometimes she dematerializes from the car as it passes the cemetery.  Other times she gets agitated and demands to be let out.  Or she flings open her door and races toward the graveyard, vanishing when she reaches the locked iron gate.  Sometimes she’s seen on the other side of the fence, walking toward her grave.

If the driver didn’t stop to pick her up, sometimes she’d jump onto the running board. Other times she would run out into the street to flag the car down. More than once, she’s thrown herself into the path of the oncoming car. The driver would feel and hear the collision, but when he went back to help, the body had vanished. People have been seeing a blond girl in a long white dress hitchhike for more than 60 years.

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Lakersnbulls91 at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sightings tapered off in the 1960s.  Then on August 10, 1976, the local police got a phone call from a passing motorist who had seen a pale young woman trapped inside the the cemetery.  When the cop showed up to investigate, the cemetery was empty.  But the center bars of the fence were bent about waist high. A series of indentations, spaced inches apart, looked like fingerprints. The cemetery claimed that a maintenance truck had backed into the fence and bent it, then a repairman had tried to straighten the bars with an acetylene torch. No one bought that explanation.

Graveyards of Chicago says, “Though the cemetery administration had the bars removed and repaired, it is said that the damaged areas will not take paint.”

The free-wheeling phantom known as Resurrection Mary has been traced to a half dozen occupants of this cemetery, all young accident victims buried in the 1920s and 30s. Not all of them named were Mary. The Midnight Society has a really good rundown.

Resurrection Cemetery itself has been described as “sparse, rural, and vast.”  However, it’s dominated by the Resurrection Mausoleum, a New Formalist white concrete building that dates to 1969. The building has walls made of dalle de verre stained glass — the largest glass installation in the world.

The glass tells the story of the bible, starting with dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden on into the modern day.  It ends with satellite dishes, jet planes, and a mushroom cloud.

That frightens me more than a hitchhiking ghost.

Please check out the stained glass photos here: https://chicagomodern.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/a-treasure-trove-of-20th-century-art-resurrection-cemetery-mausoleum/

Useful links:
Resurrection Cemetery’s website: http://www.catholiccemeterieschicago.org/Locations/Details/Resurrection

On Findagrave: https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/107652/resurrection-catholic-cemetery-and-mausoleums

Ghost Research Society report: http://www.ghostresearch.org/sites/resurrection.html

Other Illinois cemeteries on Cemetery Travel:

Cemetery of the Week #36: Rosehill Cemetery

Cemetery of the Week #89: Oak Ridge Cemetery

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

Martha in Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit

We met in 8th grade, when she sat behind me in History class.  We didn’t really become friends until 9th grade, when she noticed I was reading the Star Wars novelization while waiting for my mom to pick me up from school.  I can remember that day more crisply than almost anything else that happened in high school.  Martha had seen the original Star Wars movie over the summer, just like I had (more than once!). We made a date to see it again as soon as we could get a ride to the theater.  We have been friends ever since.

Last week I wrote about how Martha suggested I shouldn’t go to Detroit alone to poke around cemeteries.  Since she volunteered to come along, those excursions have been some of my favorite parts of my trips home.  I borrow my mom’s red Buick and we cruise in air-conditioned comfort to some quiet green space to chat and catch up and enjoy each other’s company as we explore.

Martha’s father used to make stained glass.  He’s elderly now and can’t cut the glass any longer, but Mart absorbed a lot of knowledge at his elbow as a teenager.  She can see more in a stained glass window than I will ever see.  She was telling me about the kinds of glass in this lovely window.

I’m so glad we’re friends.  I don’t think she knows what an inspiration she is to me.

Another of my cemetery adventures with Martha.

Cemetery of the Week #30: the San Francisco Columbarium

The Neptune Society’s San Francisco Columbarium

San Francisco Columbarium
1 Loraine Court
San Francisco, CA 94118-4216
Telephone: (415) 771-0717
Founded: 1898
Years of Use: 1898 – present
Number of interments: 8500 or so
Open: Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Unfamiliar even to longtime residents, the San Francisco Columbarium is tucked away behind a retirement complex and a Pier One. Most people who see the dome as the 38 bus rolls down Geary Street assume that it marks some house of worship, like the nearby landmark of Temple Emanuel. Instead, the dome crowns San Francisco’s last officially open burial place.

Decades ago, more than 100 acres of graves surrounded the Columbarium. Now the neoclassical building is the sole remnant of the Odd Fellows Cemetery, one of four graveyards stretching from Arguello to Masonic along the old toll road, which became Geary Boulevard. British architect Bernard J. S. Cahill, also responsible for the presidential heads on Mt. Rushmore, intended the columbarium to complement the crematorium he’d designed in 1895. His new building opened its doors in 1898 to house the remains of people who’d been cremated nearby.

Even before its niches started to fill, real estate interests in San Francisco coveted the cemetery grounds for housing. Bowing to their pressure, the city banned the sale of cemetery lots in 1902. Cremation within the city limits became illegal in 1910. By 1929, the Odd Fellows voluntarily began to exhume graves on their land. They transferred 24-25,0000 bodies to their newer Greenlawn Cemetery in the village of Colma, south of San Francisco. Survivors were given the opportunity to pay to have their family monuments shifted to the new graveyard. Mausoleums and grave markers that went unclaimed were smashed up and sold to the city as scrap to build the seawall at Aquatic Park. Epitaphs and inscriptions are still visible at low tide.

Cahill’s beautiful columbarium barely escaped demolition itself. It was declared a memorial in 1934 under the auspices of the Homestead Act, which protected it and the surrounding land from civic legislation. However, because of the ban on new burials, the building had no way in which to generate income. It changed hands several times, growing ever more dilapidated, until the Neptune Society purchased it in 1980.

These days, the Columbarium stands in a nice, quiet neighborhood, at the end of a cul-de-sac called Loraine Court. The building — painted mauve with purple and green accents — seems surprisingly large from the outside. The entry is done up in red marble, with ornate, artful metal doors. At the summit of the dome seventy-five feet above, a stained glass medallion glowed orange and red, the colors of fire. The interior of the dome is painted peach and blue.

Interior of the columbarium

Dark wood paneling gleams on the three levels of arched balconies. Inside each archway are the little cubbyholes from which the columbarium takes its name. Columba is Latin for dove; the Romans kept tame doves in bird condominiums with dozens of separate niches. Oddly enough, while the Romans cremated their dead, they chose to store the ashes in tall cylindrical urns like olive oil jars. These were kept in tombs like little houses, not in columbaria at all.

The rotunda floor is a marvel of inlaid stone, polished to a high gloss and set into the shape of a compass rose with petals pointing out the wind’s twelve quarters. The ground floor rooms are each named for a Greek wind. This pagan sentiment does not carry over to the exquisite stained glass windows brightening six of the rooms. Those panels lean toward effeminate angels.

In the ground floor rooms, each window is more beautiful than the last: an angel in a crimson gown; an angel supporting a soul on its way to heaven, three militant angels, one with a tongue of flame on its brow, and the mysterious “Holy Spinner.” A company in San Francisco signed one of the windows at the turn of the century. The window that depicted “Three Angels in Flight” is possibly a Tiffany design, created at the LaFarge studios in France.

The seventh ground floor room has a plain, pebbled glass window. Once it also exhibited a stained glass panel, but the window displaying two torches was looted away as the Neptune Society was purchasing the building. Rather than recreate what has been stolen, the owners commemorate its loss.

The ground floor houses mostly historic interments from the early 1900s. The niches display rotund brass urns, large enough for the ashes of family members to be commingled. The antiques look solemn, reverent, and built to survive decades of neglect.

All of the urns are sealed behind heavy panes of glass, etched or gilded with the family’s name. Some of the historic nooks still wear their original upholstery, ivory satin swagged and pleated around the walls of the niche. Some of the niches cleverly bypassed the eventual decay of their drapery by replicating the fabric’s folds in wood.

On the stairway upward, an alcove encloses a chunky teddy bear urn sporting a rainbow headscarf. During the worst of the AIDS plague, dozens of gay men turned to the Neptune Society for cremation and chose the Columbarium for a permanent sanctuary in their chosen home. Throughout the building, their niches are decorated boldly, fierce and proud in the face of death. In fact, a niche was purchased in memory of Harvey Milk, whose ashes were scattered in San Francisco Bay, so that a shrine to him would stand with all the others.

The Columbarium was sold to Dignity Memorial Inc. before 2016, when they built additional niches and a funeral home.

Useful links:

Neptune Society’s website

Columbarium slide tour

San Francisco Landmark 209

GPS information from CemeteryRegistry.us

More photos of the Columbarium

Interview with caretaker Emmitt Watson

Stained glass window at the Neptune Society Columbarium

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

Stained glass window at the San Francisco Columbarium

Spectacular stained glass windows adorn the Neptune Society’s San Francisco Columbarium.  I particularly like this one, since it combines regular leaded glass, painting on glass, and glass layered to make special lighting effects.

The guardian angel (the larger figure with the wings) is helping a soul ascend toward the streaming light of Heaven.  The quote at the bottom of the window says, “With thee is the fountain of life. In thy light shall we see light,” which comes from Psalm 36:9 in the King James Bible.

I’m not sure what the domed building in the background is:  clearly not the heavenly citadel, since it’s shadowy.  It might be some landmark of pre-1906 San Francisco, but I don’t recognize it.  I do like the way the glass in the upper right quadrant glows like moonlight on the sea.

Cemetery of the Week #30: the Neptune Society Columbarium