Cypress Lawn History: Believe It Or Not. Those Magnificent Mausoleums


Did you know?

The very first mausoleum to grace Cypress Lawn belonged to Andrew Jackson Pope, the lumber baron. He died in 1870. Cypress Lawn opened in 1892. At first sight, this baffles people.

Buried in San Francisco. Relocated to Colma


The stunning Edward La Potka stained glass window inside the Pope mausoleum


Like many others, such as James Flood, the family moved the structure here when it became clear San Francisco would likely forbid any new burials in the City and order the eviction of those that already were.

As befits the mighty fortune of James Flood, his Mausoleum is the largest private structure at Cypress Lawn


There are currently 87 private family mausoleums at Cypress Lawn.

In 1900, the average mausoleum (not counting land) cost about $75,000-$100,000, a princely sum in those days. Few were built after 1920. In 1987, Lydia Kalmanovitz, wife of beer baron wholesaler Paul Kalmanovitz, spent $2.5 million for their large mausoleum just inside the granite entrance gate to the East Gardens of Cypress Lawn. You cannot build a such a magnificent structure and put it on a postage size piece of property, so Lydia paid another $2.5 million for the land. All that barely put a dent in the $228 million Paul left to Lydia. The pair had no children. Elegantly furnished and meticulously cared for through a private endowment, the mausoleum also contains cenotaphs – an empty tomb or a monument erected in honor of one whose remains are elsewhere – recognizing the couple’s faithful pets, Lady Kitty, a feline, and German shepherds Pete and Marsha. California law does not permit animals to be buried with people.



Expenses for memorials and land will only go up. So if your plans are a Grecian Temple or a modest testimonial, making advance arrangements now will save you money in the long run.


Terry Hamburg, Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation

4 thoughts on “Cypress Lawn History: Believe It Or Not. Those Magnificent Mausoleums

  1. Neat article – I have always wondered at the cost of some of these amazing monuments. And did not know about the California law forbidding animals to be buried with humans!

    FYI, I ran across this eBay item recently. I don’t recognize the mausoleum but perhaps it is the structure by Noble Chapel that has had scaffolding around it?

  2. Thanks for your comments, Elaine. The mausoleum you refer to no longer has the scaffolding it had worn for years. The De La Montanya structure was damaged in the 1957 earthquake and then suffered more indignity when BART tunneled under that area to expand its tracks.

    Cypress Lawn finally decided that instead of tearing down such a venerable treasure, it would be “modified” to retain as much glory of its former self as possible.

    Here is a link on its history featuring a photograph of what is one of the great mausoleums built at Cypress Lawn.

    Terry Hamburg, Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation

  3. Wow! Thanks for the additional info, Terry. I will have to swing by now the scaffolding is gone.


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