Unexpected Monuments: The Curious, The Offbeat, and The Daring


Over the years cemetery memorials across the U.S. have become more standardized. This is due in part to changing tastes, in part to cemetery regulations. Cypress Lawn has evolved with  this trend, but on the East Campus and sections of the West Campus, there is an incredible variety of unusual and imaginative monuments. Most represent the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but there are recent examples, as well. And in these areas, your creativity and innovation can still run wild, i.e. land is available. Here are a few inspirations from our grounds.

Do you want something basic, earthy and bold-looking? Try a big rock.



In keeping with the rustic yet bold theme, the Woodsmen of the World, a nineteenth century cemetery insurance fraternal society that still exists, used a variety of distinct wood inspired memorials. We have over a dozen different examples at Cypress Lawn.


Speaking of fraternal (union) organizations, consider the San Francisco Typographical Union No. 21. It has a designated created remains section featuring a memorial with each deceased member’s names cast and placed  in a  bronze upright typographers tray.



Aficionados of the ancient world will find all sort of Greek and Roman memorial magnificence in the grand mausoleums of the Northern California’s business and commercial elites. But if you fancy ancient ruins, here’s one for you. It has not suffered from neglect; it was built exactly as is.



There are those who have something to the tell the world on their tombstone.


A winemaker, Raymond Signorello, also conveys words of wisdom from the grave


Some message make a point.



Mythological  creatures abound at Cypress Lawn, from satyrs to rare female sphinxs.



The King of the Jungle rests at Cypress Lawn.











And for dog lovers, we had two breeds, the Foo and the Hound.












Terry Hamburg, Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation

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