Tag: Vaults

  • 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
  • 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