Detail on the door of a neoclassical mausoleum for Louis Schwitzer (1880-1967) and Sophie Rampp Schwitzer (1889-1935) at Crown Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery, 700 38th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. Louis Schwitzer was born in an area of Poland then part of the Astro-Hungarian Empire, where he earned master’s degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering. He immigrated to the United States and went on to found the Schwitzer Corporation in Indianapolis. He was an engineer, not a race car driver, but he did win the first race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Mausoleum for Edward Fay Claypool (1832-1911) and family at Crown Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery, 700 38th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. Edward Fay Claypool was a banker and investor who helped finance the opulent Claypool Hotel and the Herron-Morton Place neighborhood in Indianapolis. He married Mary Catherine Morrow in 1855.
Loving parents with means have often left behind lifelike statues dedicated to children taken before their time.
Death is always painful, but the death of a child is particularly tragic. While memories of their brief time on this earth are cherished, it is often the unfulfilled future we mourn the most. Whenever possible, their devoted parents have gone to great lengths to memorialize and preserve the memory of their dearly departed. The following are just seven of the most touching funerary sculptures I’ve seen on my travels.
Memorial to Louis Ernest Mieusset (1881-1886), son of Louise Helluin Mieusset, who designed fashionable hats for Boston’s elites, in Forest Hills Cemetery, at 95 Forest Hills Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. She paid for this hauntingly lifelike white marble statue of her son sitting in a boat with all his favorite toys with money she saved for his schooling, leaving her grief stricken and penniless in her old age. According to popular lore, Louis drowned in Jamaica Pond, but some researchers maintain he actually died of scarlet fever.
Monument to poet James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) and family at Crown Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery, 700 38th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. Riley was born in Indiana and spent the first part of his life as a ne’er-do-well, working odd jobs until finally settling in as a newspaper editor. His children’s poems “Little Orphant Annie” and “The Raggedy Man” inspired the popular characters Little Orphan Annie and Raggedy Ann. He later founded the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
These majestic rural cemeteries are a who’s-who of the Midwest’s historic and influential personalities.
From captains of industry, to former presidents, storied military figures, inventors, and artists, Midwestern cemeteries are filled with former residents who made outsized contributions to American history. Many of these cemeteries are considered historic in their own right, owing to their art and architecture.
Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois
Bohemian National Cemetery, at 5255 N. Pulaski Road in Chicago, Illinois, was created in 1877 by Chicago’s ethnic Czech community, and has since expanded to 126 acres. Approximately 120,000 of the city’s former residents are buried here, including victims of the SS Eastland shipwreck. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
These storied homes are valued for their architecture or their role in historical events, but many visitors and residents report that something otherworldly lingers…
Lizzie Borden House
The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts was the scene of a gruesome unsolved double murder, perhaps among the most infamous in the U.S. Thirty-two-year-old Lizzy Borden became the chief suspect, but she was acquitted at trial. Today it’s open for tours and overnight stays.
The Franklin Castle
Built between 1881-1883, Franklin Castle (or the Tiedemann House as it is more properly known) is located in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. It is rumored to be home to more than a few tortured souls left over from a series of gruesome murders – but are any of those stories true? Only a few people have been allowed inside its wrought iron gates to know for sure.
Since acquiring the Allison and Wheeler-Stokely mansions, rumors persist at this Catholic university that both former estates have an active spiritual life, and not of the religious variety.
Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana was established in 1851 by the Sisters of St. Francis as St. Francis Normal in Oldenburg, Indiana. In 1936, it merged with Immaculate Conception Junior College to become Marian College. The Sisters of St. Francis purchased Riverdale, the former James A. Allison estate in Indianapolis, and moved in. Marian College officially opened on September 15, 1937. Its name changed to Marian University in 2009. Since occupying the Allison Mansion, and in 1963, the Wheeler-Stokely Mansion, rumors persist that both former estates have an active spiritual life, and not of the religious variety.
Built for automotive mogul James Asbury Allison (1872-1928) between 1911 and 1914, this Art & Crafts Country-style mansion quickly gained a reputation as a “house of wonders”. It was revolutionary at the time for integrating the latest advancements, including intercoms, automatic lighted closets, an indoor swimming pool, and even an electric elevator. Allison co-founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, co-founded the Prest-O-Lite Company, and founded the Allison Engineering Company.
Architect Herbert Bass designed the mansion’s exterior, but Allison fired him before completion and hired Philadelphia architect William Price (1861-1916) to design the interior.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenberg purchased Allison’s estate at 3200 Cold Spring Road in 1936 and moved their school there, renaming it Marian College. It served as their main administration building, library, and living quarters for decades. Allison had previously worked with the Sisters of St. Francis to open a hospital in Miami Beach, Florida. After his death in 1928, rumors spread that his ethereal form remained at his beloved Indianapolis estate, which he called “Riverdale”.