I recently visited the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York, a beautiful memorial garden founded in 1849.
The rolling hills were covered with amazing statuary, family plots with huge monuments, fascinating memorial markers, and exquisite old crypts. Its 269 acres are the final resting place of more than 152,000 individuals, including President Millard Filmore. The park-like space, with ponds, trees, and flowers, is designed to attract the living. It was one of the first cemeteries in America that welcomed the public to enjoy its beauty and celebrate those who rest there.
But I went there for a relatively new feature: The Blue-Sky Mausoleum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright with support of his Buffalo patron Darwin D. Martin, with whom he had a 30-year friendship. Martin wanted to bring his family together, both in life and in death.
While the mausoleum was designed by Wright between 1925-1928, the stock market crash of 1929 wiped out Martin’s fortune, and he died in 1935. The mausoleum was never built in either man’s lifetime.
However, Wright’s drawings, notes and correspondence regarding the Blue-Sky mausoleum were preserved, and in 2004, Forest Lawn Cemetery built it in conjunction with an architect trained by Wright himself. The monument at the top of the white steps quotes Wright, “… A burial facing the open sky… The whole could not fail of noble effect.”
While no one is interred there – yet – it stands as an awesome testament in the 21st century to the designer and his patron of the 20th century.