Tag: Baroque Architecture

  • Steen Vault, Chartiers Cemetery

    Steen name over the vault

    A unique Victorian interpretation of the Baroque style—unique in Pittsburgh, at any rate, as far as old Pa Pitt knows. The date of the mausoleum is 1874, which is the year of the first interment there.

    Steen vault
    Steen vault
    Plaque on the vault

    The front probably had bronze doors, now stolen. This plaque, however, should last a good long time. It records that the first interment was David C. Steen, who died the year the mausoleum was built (according to the date over the door). He was probably the son of David and Mary Dickson Steen, who may have built this extravagant vault in mourning for their 21-year-old son.

    It would be interesting to know how the Reeds and the rest came to be in this vault.

    These were families who were no strangers to tragedy. Of eleven names recorded here, six—a majority—died before the age of thirty.

    Steen vault
    Rear of the Steen vault
  • Redfern Mausoleum, McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery

    Old Pa Pitt loves McKeesport with an unreasoning love. It was once the second city of Allegheny County, and it was the center of its own distinct Mon Valley metropolitan area that was quite different from Pittsburgh culturally, The city had its own traditions, and—what is relevant here—its own architects and artisans. The mausoleums in the McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery, a small but splendid rural cemetery just outside downtown McKeesport, are quite different in style from the ones in Pittsburgh cemeteries.

    Here, for example we have a mausoleum that Father Pitt must confess he cannot really classify. It has the sloping sides and general shape of an Egyptian mausoleum; it has rusticated stone that suggests Romanesque architecture, and columns with medieval capitals; and it has a Chippendale open pediment that suggests the baroque. Yet in this curious mishmash there is no disharmony. It looks the way it ought to look. Father Pitt does not know whether this was the design of a local architect or a mausoleum from a dealer’s stock catalogue, but he does know that he has never seen anything like it in Pittsburgh.

  • Johann Heinrich Zellmann Monument, St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery (Spring Hill)

    Exceptionally fine lettering on a monument whose style old Pa Pitt will call German Baroque. The epitaph, unfortunately damaged, is a variation of a popular German epitaph found on many tombstones:

    Here in this rose-garden
    Will I await my wife and children.
    …children, do not pass by
    ….that I am your father.

  • Steen Mausoleum, Chartiers Cemetery

    The best way to describe this style is probably “Baroque”: it’s a splendid half-underground mausoleum, of the type usually called a “burial vault” in the days when such things were built. It’s the only one in the Chartiers Cemetery, which was founded in 1861.

    The front bears the date 1874, which suggests that the vault was built originally for David C. Steen, who died at the age of 20 or 21 in that year. An Emma M. Lappe Steen died the next year, also at the age of 20 or 21; did a young widow never recover from her loss? In fact, the mere dates tell us a good deal about the appalling mortality even among the well-to-do in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In a list of eleven names, four lived past the age of thirty.

    In a later article we have more pictures of the Steen mausoleum.