What fun! File under ‘crazy stuff’ a Gothic pillar with two flaming pillar-ettes in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Figure 1. Sullivan monument. Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA. Photo: author.

One sees standalone columns often enough, and plentiful variants of the giant standalone cross. My thought here is that this form was offered as a Christian alternative to the obelisk, which, as you know, has ancient Egyptian roots.

A religiously-based preference for Gothic over pagan-derived forms was actually a thing during the great age of American monumental art (roughly 1890-1930), and for evidence we can turn to the 1932 Presbrey-Leland catalogue: “There is a revival of Gothic architecture in America and it is influencing the design of mausoleums. Traditionally the Christian spiritual style, Gothic architecture is peculiarly appropriate for commemorative art. . . .” “most of the mausolea in our cemeteries today are conventional—and too often stereotyped—adaptations of the pagan temples of ancient Greece and Rome. . . .”

Eternal flames dance above the somewhat altar-like grave markers of Thomas (figure 2) and Blanche (figure 3) Sullivan. I suppose that notionally the masses are reservoirs of oil.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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