George G. Snowden mausoleum, West Laurel Hill, Bala Cynwyd, PA. Photo: author.

This exquisitely crisp mausoleum erected by George G. Snowden (or his commemorators after his death in 1920) lives in West Laurel Hill Cemetery. The lens on my phone distorts the image in a way that makes it look rather taller than it is, but in obedience to the dictates of the Ionic order it is in fact taller and thinner than most mausolea. You can get a feel for the scale from the door, which is rather taller than a man.

At first sight, this mausoleum’s crisp look seems to emerge from either a drive towards simplicity or cost-saving measures, or both. A normal Ionic structure would have interesting moldings like egg and dart, and dentals, and bead and reel in the pediment at least.

But when you stand back like 100 feet, it becomes clear that the simplicity of the canvas serves as a frame that sets off the door and does not compete with it.

George G. Snowden mausoleum, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA. Detail: door. Photo: author

To my eye, the door—by which I mean the bronze with all of its immediate framing elements visible in the photo above—looks like it could have been taken right out of Federal Triangle in Washington. The subject of the bas-relief panel wouldn’t be found in the Federal Triangle, though it would be suitable for the Internal Revenue Service building. I see an eternal flame at bottom right, and of course the Grief figure is fixing to lay a mourning wreath at the door. Most of the patina is lovely, and only a little bronze disease seems present.

But see, at the top of the door, between the transom lights:

George G. Snowden mausoleum, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA. Detail: transom. Photo: author.

Yep, tempus fugit (or here, volat): time flies.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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