The handsome Davidow mausoleum in Madison Avenue Temple Cemetery in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, has often delayed me as I have passed it, but today, thanks to its landscape architecture, the light, and the weather, compelled me to stop and do what justice I could to it with my iPhone (figure 1).
Myer (1872-1934) and Beulah (1869-1951) Davidow erected a fine classical mausoleum for their family. The streamlined tree over the door, the design of the valves of the door itself, and the font of the name Myer Davidow on the exterior (figure 2) all point to this mausoleum having been built around Myer’s death in 1934, during the high tide of Art Deco.
The fine, if uninspired architecture hints at the function of the mausoleum; two Tower of the Winds columns stand in antis: in giant antis that reproduce on the exterior that proportion of the mausoleum dedicated to holding caskets within. The building has emphasized verticals, the extra height required by the splendid and unusual bas relief of an oak over the door. See, too, the repeated horizontals in the steps, over the doorway, in the fascias in the architrave, and the corbels of the roof.
The glorious doors (figure 4) have 5 separate panel relief designs, repeated on each side. There has been an attempt to randomize the pairs as we read across. If we number the panels from top to bottom on the left 1L, 2L, etc., and those on the right 1R, 2R, etc., the horizontal pairs are 1L-5R; 2L-4R; 3L-1R; 4L-2R; and 5L-3R.
The panels are: 1L, Art Deco lotusform flower; 2L, laurels; 3L, tulipform flower; 4L, vine with grape cluster; 5L flower form with stamens.
The window at the rear of the mausoleum (figure 5) features a streamlined image of a tree set among flowers at its base. A warm sun appears to be heading toward the horizon casting a glow on the hills in the background.
Noblest of all is an elegant Japanese maple (figures 1, 6) planted at the rear of the mausoleum. This tree was a considerable investment which, as one can see from figure 1, is only now beginning to pay back dividends by being substantial enough to frame the mausoleum when viewed from the street in front of it. The tree with its dark reds in reflected and iridescent reds in transmitted light shimmers to the sides and above the mausoleum, an effect particularly notable with a brilliant blue sky as we had today with only a few cirrus clouds to break up the blue space.
The tree, an echo of the one carved above the door and the one in the window, is only one part of a very thoughtful plan of landscape architecture. The shrubbery is now somewhat overgrown (though trimmed), but hemlock frames the stairs and entrance in bright but dark green; behind these, at the sides of the mausoleum are rhododendrons, alas, two weeks past their flowering this year, but quite distinct against the hemlocks because of their more olive color. They would have been the typical salmon-lilac color in bloom. On the right, outboard of the front hemlock, is one remaining azalea. A matching one on the left has been lost.
I suspect we owe this mausoleum to Beulah, and to her I say, “Good work! You graced the world with a beautiful mausoleum!”