Historic Photos of Oak Grove Cemetery and Mausoleum

Update: The former owner, Marilyn Stanza, sold the property in 2016 as part of a settlement with the former attorney general of Missouri, Chris Koster, which also included surrendering her undertaker’s license. Stanza died in 2018. Despite many sources describing the architecture of this mausoleum as “Byzantine Revival,” that is not a correct description; it is Beaux-Arts. Better scans of the images added in August of 2020.

I returned to Oak Grove Cemetery recently and met with the staff, learning many interesting facts about the mausoleum and grounds.

They were also kind enough to give me an original promotional brochure from shortly after the mausoleum’s opening.

Above is the upper floor of the central rotunda, and below is the lower floor of the majestic space.

I get the impression that the marketing was geared toward making the act of burial and visiting of graves a cleaner and more scientific method compared to the old, muddy graveyards of the past.

I love the stained glass window in this chapel below; it is clearly based off of the Sistine Madonna by Raphael in Dresden, Germany.

Here are some of the other chapels and hallways in the mausoleum, showing the nice white Carrara marble that adorns the walls.

I’m creeped out by mausolea; I’m used to the old fashioned cemetery burials where all of my relatives are buried. It’s interesting to see how different people react to different burial methods.

The brochure mocks “old fashioned” cemeteries.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeff says:

    scan pictures instead of trying to photograph them… excellent reproduction with no flash or lighting source or perspective distortion

  2. Denise Heising says:

    I love this mausoleum. My grandparents are buried there. I was appalled at the condition of this once beautiful place the last time I visited with my son in 2009. I live near New Orleans now and don’t get up to St. Louis often. I’ve told my son about the mausoleum since he was a little guy. When we were finally able to visit, it was such a disappointment. I am disabled and don’t have much money, but would be happy to give something to help restore this priceless piece of history.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Denise, I am going to update this post; under no circumstance should you donate money to the owners at this point. The attorney general of Missouri is suing the owner for failing to properly maintain the cemetery.

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  3. Max says:

    I have confidence that Mr Harris has the professionalism and cachet from his extensive funeral service career to reinvigorate this historic St Louis cemetery, and its architecturally-renowned mausoleum and crematory.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Max, yes, I should update this to reflect that Marilyn Stanza no longer owns this cemetery and mausoleum, but is now owned by the highly reputable Harris Family. I also have high confidence in their ability to operate the cemetery with the dignity so lacking with the previous owner.

  4. Matthew Michaels says:

    There are terrible things being done at the mausoleum at Oak grove.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Oh, I’ve heard and seen things, too.

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