11 February 2008

A Day at the Mausoleum

Portland Memorial Mausoleum is one of my favorite places in the city to spend an afternoon. Its a great timeline of architecture and interior design through the 20th century. The oldest parts of the building were built in 1901, and almost every decade is represented up through the 80's. Over seven miles of corridors, eight floors in the tallest section, thousands of folks make this their final resting place, among them many Portland pioneer families, names that live on in Portland street names and historic buildings downtown.

A cloudy diffused light through a 1940's pastel color scheme.

The ceiling in the entrance to the old chapel. I've never been able to gain entrance to this chapel, it always seems to be locked, but from what I can tell through the windows it looks like it was stripped of most of the interesting bits and remodeled somewhere in the sixties...

This is a separate room on the far south end of the property. It was the only area where every single niche was decorated.

One of probably a hundred of the little sink rooms meant for clipping and arranging flowers, these rooms make for perfect examples of the eras they're from. I love this tile work, probably from the thirties or forties. Some of the rooms have beautiful copper sinks and drainboards, some of them are sparkled Formica from the 60's like the house I grew up in.

The entrance to the Violet Chamber, one of the "flower rooms" that make up the oldest parts of the building. These rooms are filled with hundreds of little niches containing urns of ashes, mostly from 1901-1930.

Parts of the building are becoming a bit dilapidated, years of Portland winters taking their toll, but the water damage and mold and mildew make me love the place even more.

A stairway in one of the newer parts of the building that just isn't weathering very well.

Just a couple of the many corridors that feel like a set from a David Lynch project.

I highly recommend this place to visitors of my city and fellow Portlanders. Commit yourself to feeling a little lost and alone, bundle up because the place seems to hover around 50 degrees, even in the summer. If you have asthma or allergies, beware that there is a lot of mold and mildew in some rooms.
This trip was one of the busier times I've been there, in two hours we encountered two other people. There are a few exit signs leading you out, and a few maps here and there, but many are illegible. We've visited a few times and it still took us a lot of wandering around to find a couple specific rooms we wanted to visit.
Enjoy yourself, but be respectful. Sound carries very well through the long corridors. The few staff members I've encountered seem to be friendly and aware that many of the visitors are there just to wander around and take it all in, but there will also be folks there paying their respects, please don't disturb them and ruin it for the rest of us.


h.Lo said...

Whoa, that place looks like an architectural dream. Very cool. Totally Lynch-y, too. Have you ever gone out to "Twin Peaks" when you've been up here? ciao, h.

pdxnecropolis@yahoo.com said...

I've designed and 'installed' a big, free, treasure hunt inside this building.

This is the website with the instructions: