Donnelly Vault, St. Mary’s Cemetery


Donnelly vault

One of the most picturesquely mysterious-looking structures in the city of Pittsburgh: we can imagine it as the setting for an atmospheric scene in an old-fashioned Universal horror movie.

This must have been one of the earliest interments in the cemetery, which opened in 1849, the year Henry Donnelly died. It is perhaps the most striking in-ground mausoleum in Pittsburgh. In the early and middle nineteenth century, these mausoleums cut into a hillside were the usual resting places of the rich; they are most often referred to as “mausoleums,” but sometimes as “vaults,” and perhaps it would be best to use that term, reserving “mausoleum” for a free-standing building. They fell out of favor by the 1870s or so, and proper mausoleums came into fashion.

Left inscription
Right inscription

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