Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memorial Day Tour

Once a year on Memorial Day a little known event happens that as the years go by brings an ever growing crowd including local history enthusiast as myself.  MeMa and I never like to be late and for the last couple of years we had other events that kept us from being part of the quiet crowd at Wilhelm Mortuary and Mausoleum for the opening of the Rae Crypt.   We arrived with more than an hour till the ceremony began but there were refreshments and a bagpiper to enjoy.
Scottish born George Rae one of Oregon's wealthiest lumber tycoons of the early 1900's married his housekeeper Elizabeth six months after his first wife died in 1913 at the state mental hospital.  Their love endured even though it was considered scandalous at the time.

George died four years later in 1918 leaving the fortune to Elizabeth.  George's adopted daughter from his first marriage contested the will, her lawyers accused her of being an opportunist as well as a prostitute.  The case went all the way to the supreme court, the daughter lost.
Elizabeth had the tomb built for what would be well over a million, the walls are granite and the ceiling details are all hand carved detail that one would usually find in Europe.  Two large 500 lb + sarcophagi of solid marble were carved in Italy and shipped here.  Inside the caskets themselves are solid bronze.
Elizabeth wanted a place they could be together for ever once again, so she had George exhumed from his initial grave and brought to the tomb were she joined him in death in 1942. The beautiful stained glass window has a quote of "The end of a perfect day."

Ceiling details are hand carved

The Wilhelm Mausoleum built in 1901 is also the final resting place for MeMa's grand-uncles and aunts as well. so before the Rae crypt was opened we went on a tour of the miles and miles of tunnel like rooms that spider web the hillside.

MeMa's family members

Looking down eight floors


  1. What an amazing and beautiful resting place and what perfect words for a love that I've no doubt continued beyond this life.

  2. What a lovely place, an interesting post!

  3. Wow. I've never seen anything like that. A gorgeous resting place, indeed.

    Happy Friday to you all. ♥

  4. There would be very little point writing a will if someone could come along, contest it, and win; even a daughter.

  5. What an amazing place and lovely story.