Cypress Lawn History: Believe it or Not


Did You Know…?


§ Beer baron wholesaler Paul Kalmanovitz spent $2.5 million just for his mausoleum property in 1987. The location is prime  – the first mausoleum one encounters when you enter the granite entrance gate portal on the East Campus.

Of course, the spot was chosen because of its gravitas, but there was another reason. From the mausoleum, one gets an excellent view of the imposing Hearst mausoleum. Mr. Kalmanovitz was the bootlegger of choice for William Randolph Hearst, and reportedly said that he wanted to be placed where he and Mr. Hearst could see one another.


Two of the popular beers in the Kalmanovitz empire


§ Potato chips make a great snack with beer. A stone’s throw from Kalmanovitz rests Herman Nager, who became the Potato Chip King of Northern California with his popular Blue Bell brand. The King wanted to have the largest mausoleum at Cypress Lawn. Although his stately Greek-inspired Doric temple made entirely of marble was certainly grandiose, the architect miscalculated a bit and the mausoleum comes in second to James Flood. And there is a connection to the Hearst mausoleum – neither has a name inscribed anywhere on the structure.

  Number One

Number Two


§ Gustave Niebaum, who resides in upscale Mound L, made his fortune in the powerful Alaska Commercial Company, which provided a critical link between that remote region and the United States. In retirement, he lived on a 1,000 acre estate in the Napa Valley. He set aside a small portion of the land for a private vineyard and winery. Mr. Neibaum became quite proficient at his hobby. Today, the winery is known as Inglenook. Coincidentally or not, the only cork tree in the Cypress Lawn arboretum is just across the road from his mausoleum.


§ Hamden Holmes Noble, the founder of Cypress Lawn, was mindful that one of the most haunting fears of families during the Victorian era was the possibility of a loved one being buried while still alive. Thus, it was provided that families with such concerns could have the deceased placed in a special receiving vault that included use of an “electric appliance.” By placing a small metal ring snugly on the finger of the deceased, even the slightest twitch or most insignificant movement created an electrical signal notifying a watchman in the cemetery office who was in attendance day and night.


Terry Hamburg, Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation


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