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The Old Mausoleum

City of Chatham, Ontario

The beautiful stained glass window in the old mausoleum
Note the upside down torch
A symbol of a life extinguished
Click on Photo to link to Our Gallery

Photos and text of all crypt doors in the Old Mausoleum are available in the Find a Stone area of our web site located here...

The old Mausoleum seems to have been began in 1913 and was finished in 1914. Landscaping in front of it was finished in 1915.

There is a time capsule inside that is inscribed with the following text. This seems to indicate that it would have been built by the American Mausoleum Company. At this point no information has been found on this company, but of course that is now almost 100 years ago. Further research is needed to investigate further. Indeed the text on the door seems to indicate that we may find information on that company inside the time capsule when it is opened in 2014 along with other possible materials.

Chatham Archives.
Contains records of municipal,
charitable, and fraternal organizations,
historical sketch of Kent.
Donated to posterity by the
American Mausoleum Co. and
Chatham Daily News. To be opened
A. D. 2014, records brought up to
date, and resealed for 100 years;
to be repeated ad infinitum.

There are 160 crypts in the building. Several doors have no inscriptions. We have been told that there is one crypt that is not occupied yet. It is unknown if that person is still alive or was interred somewhere else.

There are four stained glass windows in the building. The main window at the back contains the figure of an upside down torch. This is (we are told) the traditional symbol of a life extinguished.

In earlier years the building was open to the public. These days it is only open on very special occasions for tours unless you have a relative in the building. We have actually talked to people who were locked in the building as kids. I have indeed talked to two different people who this happened to.

Inside if you look through the window in the door you will probably see the old lift that was used to hoist a casket up to the upper levels to slide it into a crypt.

We are told that the doors that you see are easily removed, but that there are other doors in behind those that are much more secure.

If you look closely at the outside of the building you will see vents on the roof, and around the bottom of it. These vents are to allow gasses and liquids to escape from those interred there. If these vents were not there, very unsafe conditions can occur.

In the Find a Stone area of our site you will find photos of all crypt doors, along with transcriptions.

In our Gallery you will find photos of a small area where new paint is pealing off to reveal the original decorative painting on the interior of the building.

In former years before the new chapel was built, often grave side services were done inside the old mausoleum in poor weather such as cold and rain.

In Council Minutes Sept 8 of 1913

Presented the board of the Canadian Surety Company of Toronto for bond for $14,000 and bond for American Mausoleum Company of $6,000. Re erection of Mausoleum at Chatham Cemetery. Ald moved that the said bonds be received. Carried.

In Council Minutes May of 1914

Received. Proposition and agreement from American Mausoleum Company for council's consideration and favorable action stating it is their desire and co endeavor to get the proposed building under roof before winter time.

In Council Minutes May 1914.

Alderman moved that Mr Smith from American Mausoleum Company be heard.

Mr Smith addressed the council as to the advantages of having such a building

It would be granite with marble interior crypts, chapel, and (because) it holds 300 top 400 bodies requires no special care and building will last for 200 years before any upkeep will be required. Mr Smith read over the company's draft agreement with the city and asked that it may be signed so they can begin selling crypts at once.

It being 11 o'clock the rules were suspended in order to get on with the business.

Ald Wilson stated that he has inspected the plans of the proposed mausoleum and believes that they are all that has been stated in regards to them(???).

Ald Wanless and seconded by Ald Lister that representatives of the boards present be heard.

In Council Minutes May 1914.

Moved that the agreement between the American Mausoleum Company and the City in regard to erecting a mausoleum at the cemetery be signed by Mayor and Clerk.

In Council Minutes May 1914.

From American Mausoleum Company with agreement accompanying deal(?), executed for a mausoleum in the city of Chatham.

In Council Minutes Aug 5 1914.

The Mayor stated that Mr Dallas of the American Mausoleum Company ask representatives of the council to go to the cemetery and advise with the company as to the location of the new mausoleum, that they went out and advised that the building be placed about the center of the square acre of land owned purchased from Mr Scane.
Motion that the council accept and approve of the plans submitted for the new mausoleum.

Date not yet recorded.
Ald Wanless moved seconded by Ald Brisco that the city enter into certificates with the American Mausoleum Company so owners of the crypts and mayor and clerk are hereby authorized to sign the certificates on behalf of the city as soon as the engineer certifies the building is completed. Carried.
Ald Foreman(?) moved that the city Clerk have a bylaw prepared for the assent of the electors to establish a Park Board in the City of Chatham. (Note that Parks and Cemeteries at one point began to be administered under the same umbrella.)

From Council July 27 1914

Correspondence from the American Mausoleum Company stating that they will soon have the building complete and that the guarantee will expire on Aug 25 1914. They would ask that the bond be accepted at an amount to correspond with the amount required for completion.

This seems to indicate that the building was not yet started but was built VERY quickly after this meeting unlike the one in Wallaceburg.

From Council Sept 8 1914

That the application of the American Mausoleum Company for reduction of bond. We recommend that bond of $14,000 be reduced to $7,000 and that the bond of $6,000 be left at the same figure.

Dec 28 1914
Also report of F P Adams the City Engineer that the Mausoleum erected in the cemetery by the American Mausoleum Co is completed according to the plans and specifications submitted.

The Mayor stated that He and the Clerk had signed certificates of ownership to purchasers of crypts so far as have been presented.

Ald Brisco stated that the grounds in front of the Mausoleum are in bad condition and should be fixed up.

Ald Brisco moved and seconded by Ald Lowe (?) that the clerk write the American Mausoleum Co and ask them to put the grounds in front of the Mausoleum in proper shape. Carried.

Corr. from the American Mausoleum Co stating that they have let the contract for grading and were under the impression that the work had been done but will have it attended to.

March 23 1915 page 239.

Corr from the American Mausoleum Company stating that they are sending to the City Clerk a record book of the crypts in the Mausoleum.

July 12 1915 Corr. from John Howse Wallaceburg asking when the city intends to dedicate the New Mausoleum. The Clerk stated that he has answered the letter.

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