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Traditional Form And Structure

The construction photo above is one of a series called, simply “Porter Mausoleum, Woodlawn Cemetery”. Woodlawn is in the Bronx and while not quite as nice or famous as Green-Wood in Brooklyn, it’s a good example of the victorian park-style cemetery. “Porter” was William Porter, a banker who died in 1926. The mausoleum was completed in 1928, and here it is today:

Mausoleum at the historic Woodlawn Cemetery in Woodlawn, within The Bronx borough ofNew York City. The graveyard opened during the U.S. Civil War in 1863, in what was then part of rural Westchester County, in an area that was annexed to New York City in 1874. Itis the final resting place of many American notables, including journalist Nellie Bly, novelist Herman Melville, and musicians Irving Berlin, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and W. C. Handy.

Before I found the modern picture, I was expecting, from the construction photos, a domed top. The cone is an interesting touch. In any case, unlike most of the construction photos I dissect, this is a bearing-wall structure, apparently entirely built of marble. Here are the walls going up between the columns:

And here’s the complete drum, with the cone still under in progress and temporarily under a tarp:

A few things: that’s a big derrick on the left, presumably because the large blocks of stone were heavy enough that the builder, Marc Eidlitz & Son, didn’t want to mess around. As seen in the top photo, the column shafts were single pieces of stone rather than built up from drums, which made the work more difficult. The top photo also shows some braced-frame falsework to hold the columns in place until the walls were built. It looks like the columns were used to fix the geometry: once they were set, the walls were easy to get right, simply having to run column to column. The wood scaffolding built for the masons is nice, too.

Note the date: the columns were erected by October 2, 1927, and the cornice was complete and the cone in progress in January. This is not a big structure, but the difficulty of the heavy stones and (obviously) tight tolerances in the geometry made it slow going.