Commerce and Victory

Grunow Mausoleum in the Forest Home Cemetery at Chicago, Illinois

Grunow Mausoleum in the Forest Home Cemetery at Forest Park, Illinois

The second largest mausoleum in the Forest Home Cemetery at Forest Park, Illinois, was built for  life-long Chicago resident, William Grunow, (born April 30, 1893; died July 6, 1951) a partner in the Majestic Radio Company.

The pathway to the mausoleum is flanked by lions.  The lion has long been a symbol of bravery, strength, and majesty. In popular culture, the lion is known for its power and is called King of the Jungle and King of the Beasts.  The lion is often used as a royal emblem, found eight times in the Royal Arms for the Queen of England alone!

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The lion in funerary art symbolizes the power of God. It is often depicted flanking the entrance of a tomb, as it is here, to guard against evil spirits to the passageway to the next realm. It also represents the courage of the souls the lions guard. There is also a connection of the lion to the Resurrection. It was once believed that lion cubs were born dead but would come to life after three days when the cubs were breathed upon by a male lion. The three days is significant because it is the number of days Jesus was in the tomb before he was Resurrected.

The mausoleum design is of the Ionic order, one of the three organizational systems of Greek architectural design. The Ionic order is characterized by the use of a capital (the top of the column) that uses volutes, a spiral scroll-like ornamentation. In this example, the capital is enriched with an egg and dart design. The Ionic column is slender and is often fluted.  The entablature (architectural composition resting on the columns) is composed of an architrave (lentil or beam) which is plain and divided into two or three bands and rests directly on the column; a frieze (the widest band between the capital and the cornice); and the cornice. The acroterion, an acanthus stone work, is placed at the apex of the pediment and at the corners of the tomb which completes solemn tomb.

Two striking features of the tomb are the statues on either portico.  One statue is of the Greek god, Mercury, which among his many roles, was the god of commerce.  Here he holds the caduceus, his symbol which has become synonymous with the medical profession.   The base of the statue is inscribed with the words, “The Spirit of Commerce.”

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Underneath the opposite portico, is the statue of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, carrying the palm leaf.   The base of her statue reads, “The Spirit of Radio”.

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Both statues honor what made Grunow his fortune.

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