Woodlawn Mausoleums

Woodlawn Mausoleums


I don’t have great luck getting into Woodlawn Cemetery. I was turned away at the gates on two separate occasions due to snowy conditions (the exact reason why I wanted to visit) and I had tickets to an evening illuminated mausoleum tour that was rescheduled three times due to rain (on the day that it finally did happen, I was unavailable).

Woodlawn is every bit as beautiful as its Brooklyn counterpart, Green-Wood, and much easier to get to now that I live back in northern Manhattan. My mom and I recently took a NY Adventure Club tour inside some of the mausoleums at Woodlawn that was thankfully still held, despite the rain.


The first mausoleum that we got inside of belongs to Dr. Clark W. Dunlop. Dr. Dunlop made his fortune from the sale of medical manuals and several patent medicines including Dr. Dunlops King of Pain, and a laxative called Dr. Dunlop’s Cascara Compound. The granite mausoleum has several design elements that are bird-themed, and for good reason: Dr. Dunlop’s beloved pet parrot is also interred within the mausoleum.


Dr. Dunlop, most likely suffering from the end-stages of syphilis, was declared mentally incompetent in 1907 and—despite being treated by a dubious doctor and his pair of “magic mechanico-physiological” boots—died in 1908. The parrot joined Dunlop in 1921, and his wife came to rest in the mausoleum in 1932.


Giovanni P. Morosini, born in Venice, was the confidential secretary of railroad magnate Jay Gould. He amassed a fortune worth several millions of dollars, and there is a Giovanni P. Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Morosini and his family are interred in a Renaissance-style structure with stone lions flanking the door. There are stained glass windows and a vaulted ceiling with beautiful celestial tile-work reminiscent of the ceiling at Grand Central Terminal.


I joke about some grand mausoleums being more spacious than my studio apartment, but that might actually be true of John H. Harbeck’s final resting place. Harbeck inherited a fortune from his father, the founder of a substantial Brooklyn warehousing empire known as the Harbeck Stores.

His Renaissance Revival mausoleum was designed in 1918 by Theodore Blake, an architect with the firm of Carrere and Hastings. It sits alone in the middle of a traffic oval, and its double bronze doors are replicas of the north doors of the Baptistery in Florence. Intricate stone carvings flank the doors and the inside is full of beautiful stained glass, a tiled dome ceiling and was set up for electricity even though the plots were never actually wired for it.


George Ehret, born in Germany, started the Hell Gate Brewery and became one of the richest men in New York City. When he died in 1927, his estate was valued at $40 million. He is interred within a huge, 56-crypt mausoleum, flanked by granite lions. The interior includes a domed, Guastavino-tiled ceiling and Tiffany windows. In the ‘70s, most of the Tiffany glass was stolen from Woodlawn and they’ve been slowly recovering pieces ever since.


O. H. P. Belmont’s elaborately-carved mausoleum is an almost exact, full-scale replica of the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in France’s Loire Valley. Designed by the architecture firm of Hunt & Hunt, and fabricated in limestone, the mausoleum is the final resting place of Belmont—founder of the Belmont Raceway and a representative in Congress from New York—and his wife, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. Alva, previously married into the famous Vanderbilt family, used her fortune to support the women’s suffragette movement. The mausoleum contains an original suffragette banner, inscribed with the words, “failure is impossible.”

Woodlawn Cemetery
4199 Webster Avenue
Bronx, NY 10470
8:30 am-4:30 pm every day (except, apparently, when it’s snowing)
Mausoleums aren’t usually open to the public, but Woodlawn and the NY Adventure Club frequently host tours.

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!