Kerens Mausoleum, Calvary Cemetery, Revisited

I always enjoy it when readers bring my attention back to a building I’ve only cursorily looked at in the past, or that I’ve never heard about before. The Kerens Mausoleum in Calvary Cemetery is a great example; I took one photo of it back in August of 2013 but I realized, after reading a newspaper article when it was finished in 1916, that it has a very rich history.

Designed by George D. Barnett, of the famed firmed of Barnett, Haynes and Barnett, it sits on a $10,000 mausoleum that became the crypt of the first of its kind private “funerary chapel” in St. Louis. The doors were indeed stolen; they were, in my opinion, stolen in a targeted theft by professionals due to their beauty and historic value.

It cost another $50,000 to add the superstructure that is based off Renaissance prototypes, as well as Roman architecture. The dome, with its masonry banding around its base, is inspired by the Pantheon’s dome.

Instead of an oculus like its ancient Roman predecessor, it is crowned with a cross. The Kerens Family is Roman Catholic.

This is a very large building! It is probably bigger than the Lemp Mausoleum in nearby Bellefontaine Cemetery.

Ornament is minimal on the mausoleum, but there are these volutes on the portal.

There are three stained glass windows; the window on the left is the Resurrection, in the middle is the Ascension, and one the right, seen below, are two women in mourning at Christ’s tomb. There is a full service altar on the main floor, with a circular balcony looking down into the crypt in the old mausoleum. Cardinal Glennon said mass at the dedication of the building in 1916.

There are some cool drainage channels that keep the water flowing down the hill to the lower level.

There also is a staircase, which might be made with red granite from the old mausoleum.

I don’t think the back doors were stolen, but they have been secured with plywood to keep them from being removed. There are eighteen niches in the lower level.

Here is the view of the mausoleum from the lower elevation, showing the clear relation between the old and newer buildings. I suspect the old mausoleum was so stoutly built they figured it was feasible to use it as the substructure and crypt for the new building.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Claudia Kerens says:

    Given the doors were stolen, do you know whether or not the coffins –the one on the left was R.C. Kerens and the one on the right was Fannie Kerens–were disturbed as the coffins were also made of copper.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      I did not hear anything about the interior contents, including the coffins, being disturbed.

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