Figure 1. Klein mausoleum. West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA. Photo: author.

The P.M. Klein mausoleum (figure 1) is, from the outside, only a little different from half a dozen others at West Laurel Hill Cemetery. Full points are given for the bundled papyrus reed columns, which are slightly rarer than the regular lotus-themed ones. The Lennig mausoleum in Laurel Hill (figure 2) is another example, although it is very streamlined and employs a striking onionskin marble to dramatic effect.

Figure 2. Lennig mausoleum. Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA. Photo: author.

Mad props, too, go to Klein for purchasing the “extended pack” of revival decorations, exampled here by the ankh door pull (figure 3).

Figure 3. Klein mausoleum. Detail: door pull in form of ankh. West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA. Photo: author.

Though due credit ought to be given to the Drake mausoleum with its sly smiling COBRA HANDLE! (figure 4)

Figure 4. Drake mausoleum. Detail: door handle. West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA. Photo: author.

But if the Klein mausoleum stands out against its Egyptian revival brethren, it’s in its magnificent stained glass window (figure 5), which is, in my experience to date, unique.

Figure 5. Klein mausoleum. Detail: rear stained glass window. West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA. Photo: author.

The window has clearly been assembled using some ready-made pieces for the borders and the horizontal band at the bottom. Very nice, even there, is the brownish sand coloring. Also, the winged solar disc with uraeus snakes at top, usually found over the doors of these revival mausolea (including this one), really pops with the red art glass for the solar disc.

But of course your attention was immediately seized by the wonderful desert scene with pyramids and fallen column. I suppose this could be read a couple of different ways. I see it as the wreck of the mortal body in the column, mirrored by the twilight in the sky signifying the end of life. But against the dying of the light, so to speak, is the promise of immortality symbolized by the pyramids. And where a column has fallen, life, in the form of a palm tree, springs up.

The window can thus be read in a thoroughly Christian vein (as its 19th century proprietors no doubt wished), but the commissioners had the courage of their convictions to let symbols native to the Egyptian revival architecture they had chosen do the work for them, rather than (as one occasionally sees) add a last-minute, panicky cross or something into the picture, spoiling it.

Some of the glass in the central image is painted, I think, like the fallen column capital, the tree trunks, and the pyramids, but the most striking effects are created with art glass that has been mixed and fired to create very, very attractive streaked effects, or an alabaster look. I particularly like the sky as it transitions through several colors between a yellow gold to a blue with hints of turquoise.

Good work, Klein! Thanks for paying the little extra to leave us something beautiful to find!

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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