Are you a taphophile--fascinated with cemeteries, gravestones and the culture of death and mourning? Join the club, and reserve your spot as Esotouric, L.A.'s most eclectic sightseeing tour company, teams up with Nathan Marsak, America’s wittiest historian of mortuary architecture, for an immersive illustrated lecture on the early cemeteries and innovative mausoleum designs of Southern California.
We'll begin the program with rare photographs and some fascinating stories about City Cemetery and Old Calvary, two of the earliest American burial grounds in the historic heart of Los Angeles. As the city grew, the cemeteries were relocated, leaving tantalizing traces of how death and life were once entwined around Olvera Street.
From these lesser known mid-19th century graveyards, we'll fast forward to the 1910s, when new ideas in hygiene, architecture and civic pride shaped the development of a different kind of memorial landscape: the community mausoleum.
These public burial vaults reflected a burgeoning modernism: they were, in effect, early multifamily housing constructed of steel-reinforced concrete, built in a functional and spare style intended to connote solemnity, but to also provide the necessary hygienic element. Just as pioneers of concrete residential architecture worked to make their structures fireproof, durable and sanitary, so did the builders of mausolea; modernist masters like Irving Gill would similarly obsess over hygienic concerns of drainage and ventilation. But unlike private homes, public mausolea were meant to evoke a peaceful eternity, represented through exquisite use of stained glass.
Through vintage and contemporary photos, we'll virtually explore the compelling histories of three significant structures, erected over just four years:
Community Mausoleum, Anaheim Cemetery (architect Charles E. Shattuck, 1914)
Inglewood Mausoleum, Inglewood Cemetery (architects Buchanan & Brockway, 1915)
Hollywood Mausoleum, Hollywood Cemetery now called Hollywood Forever (architects Marston & Van Pelt, 1918)
We will also be joined by Prof. Steve Hackel of UC Riverside, to talk about the Campo Santo at El Pueblo, the first cemetery in Los Angeles (1822-1844), both its history as a cemetery, and the controversy surrounding the recent unintentional unearthing of the graves during a renovation project by the County of Los Angeles in 2010.
This webinar is an illustrated lecture packed with rare photos that will bring cemetery history to life on your digital device. And you'll find the look of an Esotouric webinar is a little different than your standard dry Zoom session, with lively interactive graphics courtesy of the mmhmm app.
After the presentation, Nathan, Kim and Richard will answer your questions, so get ready to be a part of the show.
About Nathan Marsak: Nathan is the author of the books Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir, Los Angeles Neon Bunker Noir!, and can be found spitting tacks in the character of The Cranky Preservationist. You can find him online at his blogs, Bunker Hill Los Angeles & RIP Los Angeles .