Entry Author: Deanna
The Columbarium, at One Loraine Court, set on a 3.5 acre
park at the entrance to the Odd Fellows Cemetery, was completed
in 1898, as a memorial repository for cremated remains.
Designed by the young British architect, Bernard J. S. Cahill,
who specialized in mortuary architecture, the Columbarium
is considered one of his finest works. The Odd Fellows regarded
death as a dignified and ordinary affair, without fear or
morbid feelings. The interior of the Columbarium was furnished
like a Victorian parlor with potted palms and oriental rugs.
The neo-classical style building blends Roman Baroque, English
neoclassicism, and 19th century polychrome.
The exterior has a Roman-inspired dome similar to Michaelangelo's
original conception for St. Peters. The dome is copper-clad
and ribbed with an inner steel framework. A squat lantern
is clad in copper with round openings and decorated with garlands.
The walls are stucco and grooved to simulate stone.
The interior has four levels topped by a stained glass ceiling
within the lantern. The dome is supported by eight Roman Doric
piers. Flower and urn decorations are cast plaster. The central
rotunda has four square wings.
The first floor has the Greek names of the winds: Aquilo,
Solanus, Eurus, Auster, Notus, Zephyrus, Olympias and Arktas.
The second floor has the Greek names of the constellations:
Corona, Zubanan, Cheiron, Argo, Sothis, Orion, Perseus and
Large stained glass windows, mostly created by the California
Company, with one possibly by Louis Comfort Tiffany or John
LaForge include: three angels, "The Holy Spinner,"
an angel with lily ascending into heaven, Christ with outstretched
hands, a design often used on Easter cards, and an angel,
in purple, lifting a body upwards.
Following the removal of the Odd Fellows Cemetery in 1930,
the Columbarium was sold to Bay Cities Cemetery Association.
In 1935, the Columbarium was declared a memorial and the land
was homesteaded under the Homestead Act to prevent the state
from taking control. In 1980, it was sold to the Neptune Society,
which undertook a $300,000 renovation.
In October, 1995, the Columbarium was given landmark status.
Starting in 1999, plans for expansion and renovation included
tearing down the office building and building a new office
building; construction of a wall with 6000 niches around the
perimeter of the park, planting trees, creating a new parking
lot with a quieter gravel surface; and building a new Victorian-style
gate at the entrance.
Niches with copper and glass doors house the ashes of prominent
and less prominent residents of San Francisco reflecting the
style of the era in which they died. Lined with silk drapery
and containing urns of alabaster, silver, copper, and ceramic,
many urns reflect the Victorian era and early 1900s. Photographs
and treasured mementos reflect the latter part of the 20th