Portland’s largest mausoleum opens to the general public solely over Memorial Day weekend

For the primary time in two years, the 250-pound stable bronze doorways to essentially the most unique crypt on the town will reopen at Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum.

The century-old Rae Room, holding the marble sarcophagi of a lumber baron and his scandalous second spouse, is closed to the general public 364 days of the 12 months, opened solely on Memorial Day. The previous two years, it has remained closed even then due to the pandemic.

Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum

The century-old Rae Room, holding the marble sarcophagi of a lumber baron and his scandalous second spouse, is closed to the general public 364 days of the 12 months, opened solely on Memorial Day. The previous two years, it has remained closed even then due to the pandemic. Could 20, 2022 Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

This weekend marks the return of Memorial Day festivities to the mausoleum, a “metropolis inside a metropolis” that holds some 97,000 souls and is likely one of the largest mausoleums on the West Coast.

From outdoors, Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum within the Sellwood neighborhood appears to be like like every other funeral residence.

However a modest one-story view from the road hides one thing extraordinary – an enormous, eight-story mausoleum complicated constructed into the aspect of a hill overlooking Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

The century-old mausoleum has been expanded through the years right into a seemingly limitless labyrinth of hallways and staircases. The sprawling complicated takes up three metropolis blocks and incorporates greater than seven miles of corridors. Three fountains cascade down a number of flooring. In every stone-lined room, stays are stacked from ground to ceiling, usually 14 urns, or seven caskets, excessive.

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Family and friends members are welcome to go to the mausoleum throughout each day visiting hours. For anybody else, Sarah Lewis, a household service adviser with Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum, presents month-to-month guided group excursions of the power.

Memorial Day weekend is the one time the whole mausoleum is open to the general public.

Guests come to admire the stained-glass home windows, a reproduction marble statue of Michelangelo’s “La Pieta,” or the Neo-Mediterranean artwork deco type of the principle constructing. Every addition displays the type of the occasions: from early twentieth century Tiffany glasswork to hand-carved German woodwork adorning the rooms added within the Nineteen Seventies.

Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum

Elaborate stained glass panels featured in a single household’s personal burial house have been made by Tiffany & Co. The ceiling options gold painted stars. One ebook containing cremains encompasses a crusing ship. Could 20, 2022 Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

“It’s like Disney World; it takes greater than in the future to see all of it,” Lewis stated.

Lewis’ excursions usually final 30-45 minutes and canopy simply a number of the highlights. She begins within the chapel, the primary and oldest constructing on the positioning.

Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum was initially based in 1901 because the Portland Cremation Affiliation, that includes a crematorium, a chapel and areas within the basement to show the urns of family members. An advert in The Oregonian for the enterprise’s grand opening promoted cremation charges of $35 for adults and $25 for kids.

The inside of the chapel encompasses a stained-glass ceiling accomplished by Portland’s famed Povey Brothers, whose studio was often known as “The Tiffany’s of the Northwest.” (The brothers themselves are additionally laid to relaxation within the mausoleum.)

Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum

All kinds of distinctive urns from throughout the many years line the partitions at Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum in Southeast Portland. Could 20, 2022 Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

Inside, urns relaxation inside niches lining the partitions, most seen behind locked glass and a few hidden away behind marble fronts. Many of those stays have been right here for a century, although there may be the uncommon opening when descendants determine to relocate a beloved one. Lewis identified a current emptiness contained in the chapel’s predominant room – the primary to open in additional than 50 years and some of the costly locations to be laid to relaxation on the mausoleum. The empty area of interest, behind vintage beveled crystal glass, is giant sufficient to carry a number of urns.

For simply $25,000, you could possibly spend eternity right here.

Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum

Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum in Southeast Portland options greater than 7 miles of walkways containing greater than 95,000 entombed souls. Could 20, 2022 Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

By 1919, house beneath the chapel was filling up and building started on an adjoining mausoleum. Information studies on the time stated the constructing would comprise 400 marble-lined vaults for full-body burials and “be the one steam-heated mausoleum in America.”

The house turned out to be a preferred interment possibility, and by 1923 the corporate was already planning the constructing’s first enlargement.

“They simply stored constructing upon it and stored constructing upon it,” Lewis stated. “As we undergo the constructing, you’ll discover that no two sections are the identical.”

New interments are held each week, Lewis stated, and niches are nonetheless being added to the constructing. Guests are requested to be respectful when visiting.

“Lots of this constructing appears to be like like a museum, but it surely’s not a museum,” Lewis stated. “It’s a sacred resting place for hundreds and hundreds of individuals.”

Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum

Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum in Southeast Portland options greater than 7 miles of walkways containing greater than 95,000 entombed souls. Could 20, 2022 Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

Along with the Povey Brothers, the mausoleum is the resting place of a number of founders of Franz Household Bakeries, members of the Jantzen household, recognized for his or her namesake swimwear firm, and film star Mayo Methot, most well-known for her unstable marriage to Humphrey Bogart. (He was stated to have despatched flowers to her crypt weekly till his demise.)

Members of the Yeon household lie on both aspect of a stained glassed window depicting a rainbow over Multnomah Falls. John B. Yeon, for whom the state park close to the falls is called, was one of many principal architects of the Historic Columbia River Freeway.

The largest Memorial Day draw is the 15×15 foot Rae Room, the everlasting resting place for George and Elizabeth Rae.

George, who died in 1918, was the vice chairman of the Inman-Poulsen Lumber Firm. Elizabeth was first his housemaid after which his second spouse. When George died, his adopted daughter and son-in-law fought Elizabeth over the property, contending she had blackmailed George right into a sham marriage.

However Elizabeth prevailed in court docket, and he or she used her cash to construct a grand monument for her and her late husband, with stable marble partitions and an intricate carved picket ceiling.

The a lot youthful Elizabeth died in 1942 and was positioned subsequent to her husband in an identical stable bronze coffin and marble sarcophagus. Above them, a nature scene is depicted in stained glass with the phrases on the backside studying, “The top of an ideal day.”

Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum

The Rae Room at Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum is open to the general public on Memorial Day every year. The room options options stained glass, granite, two hand-carved marble sarcophagi and a winding story, a love story actually, of George and Elizabeth Rae. Could 20, 2022 Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

“It’s such an intriguing story and such an exquisite house,” Lewis stated. “For those who took cash and constructed an area like this these days, it could be a pair million {dollars}.”

Many of the personal crypt rooms within the mausoleum are closed to the general public and open solely to household, however the Rae descendants enable this particular room to be opened yearly.

“We’re grateful to indicate off the fantastic thing about the room,” Lewis stated. “In any other case, it could simply be a hidden secret.”

For those who go: Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum is at 6705 SE 14th Ave. Public visiting hours for Memorial Day weekend are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday. The Rae Room can be open solely on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day festivities embody free sizzling canines all day and a 1 p.m. service that includes a marching band, colour guard, bagpipers, and army personnel from Camp Withycombe.

— Samantha Swindler, [email protected], @editorswindler

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