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.
I did see this post after all! I want to see the photos though!
Oh! I will see if I can find them on her Facebook; my camera is lame and I have none of my own.
Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed it. (And you left out the part about the damaged coffin! Covered in dust! All alone in a storeroom and we couldn’t get it open and COFFIN OMG!) If you kids ever come to New Orleans, we have to go cemetery-ing again.
Hee. I was sort of childishly worried that somebody from the cemetery might read that and discover we’d been snooping, and now I realize that it is probably not something to worry about. It was really creepy, though. I like to think that there’s a dead guy in there who doesn’t realize that he’s not buried yet.
New Orleans cemetery-ing will be AWESOME.
I told you! I so love that place! I would really love to restore it, as it used to be, and may still be, one of the largest mausoleums in the world. In the 1950s a mutant species of dwarf holly was found there that became a rage for landscaping. I joke not.
I’m with you. I’d love to see it finished and maintained; it would be spectacular.
Sounds like a great way to spend a day.. hubby and I enjoy graveyards very much and can spend hours taking photographs and poking around when we happen across one.
I’m SOOO looking forward to seeing the pictures.