Okay. Perhaps that was unnecessarily gross. Probably.
This weekend was full of a lot of things, but mostly going to Westview Cemetery with Gabbiana, which was awesome (I like that I have friends who get excited at the prospect of going to a cemetery). It is huge and only half-full and the day was really fantastically overcast. The highlight of the trip was the gigantic mausoleum (it’s bigger than several of my house put together), which is beautiful on the first floor but eerily unfinished on the top floor and in the basement. The first floor is complete, with marble floors and a vaulted chapel and some speakers that used to pipe in music but are now silent. The chapel is full of really amazing woodwork and poorly-glazed windows that are buckling inward, which gives them a bubble-like quality. The rest of the building is creepy. You can tell where they started to run out of money and then where they have completely run out of money. The basement is half-finished (half of it is blocked off), and the finished part has those poured conglomerate floors (I forget what they’re called) that you see in grade schools and high schools all over America, and sprayed-popcorn ceilings. There were really suspicious water stains in certain corners. I didn’t think about them too hard. The top floor is very unfinished, consisting of only two open corridors (which are still in use). The rest is all boarded over. Some inspection through holes in the plywood separating us from the unfinished sections showed dusty building materials in piles all around. From the lobby of the ground floor, you can see a beautiful carved stone bridge and balconies, but unfortunately those were in the closed-off section. We did see them over the top of a barrier at the top landing of a spiral staircase tucked away in a hallway.
Gabbiana and the husband were much more cavalier about it than I was. They peeked through barriers and knocked on the tombs and sniffed in cracks (even the one in the exposed seal from one of the tombs), so I felt pretty proud of myself when I detected the Special Smell on the third floor first, prompting me to declare, “I smell dead people” all weekend (we went to a dinner party afterward, and it was really hard not to use that as a conversation starter).
The cemetery’s website boasts the chapel on site, with lovely stained glass windows, though I imagine they mean the big vaulted one – the smaller chapel is also boarded-over. I wonder if they’ll ever finish the building, or if they’ll just let it crumble. With the vast amount of unused, unturned plot space outside, the latter of the two possibilities seems more likely.
And the creepiest part? Not the Smell, not the flies buzzing around. No, the creepy part was the carts parked against doors and at the end of corridors, and the places where people were buried but nobody had finished the ceilings.
We finished off by poking around the old caretaker’s shop, until the current caretaker told us we had to leave or we’d be locked in.
It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.