Venetian Gothic

Cavehill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky

Cavehill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky

With the exception of the ornamentation on the top of the Spotts Mausoleum, two nearly identical mausoleums, one in the Cave Hill Cemetery at Louisville, Kentucky, and the other in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery at Nashville, Tennessee, were designed and built in the Venetian Gothic style.

Owner of the St. Nicholas Hotel and Steamboat Captain Harry Innes Spotts was laid to rest in a mausoleum (above) designed by John Baird (1820-1894) who was the proprietor of the Steam Marble Works at Philadelphia which cut marble with steam power.   Baird’s shop gave customers standard designs to pick from.  Daniel Franklin Carter (1808-1874), a prominent Nashville banker, was buried in a mausoleum in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery at Nashville, Tennessee.

Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee

Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee

Both mausoleums are designed in the Venetian Gothic style.  Venetian Gothic architecture combined several architectural styles—Moorish, Gothic, and Byzantine—into a single style reminiscent of the building designs that brought a confluence of cultures together to create a flourish and lightness to the canals of Venice.  During the Victorian era, several architects drew from the Venetians for creative building designs that was part of a larger revival that intertwined several styles into one pleasing to the eye.

When the Spotts Mausoleum was erected in the Cave Hill Cemetery the local newspaper, the October 14, 1866 issue of the Louisville Daily Democrat wrote, “It is of Moorish style architecture…this mausoleum is one of the most permanent and tasteful structures yet erected in our far-famed ‘city of the dead.’”

In addition to the two mausoleums found in Nashville and Louisville, this same design is found in two mausoleums in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. The difference, however, is that with each of these two mausoleums are not free-standing.   That is, the façade is designed and constructed in the same Venetian Gothic style, but most of the tomb in underground. It is likely that in both cases of these two mausoleums are constructed and built by the Steam Marble Works in Philadelphia. The Vorhees Tomb is ornamented just like the Spotts Tomb in Louisville and the Carter Tomb in Nashville.

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

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The Benson Tomb, is in the same architectural style, but is highly ornamented—with two large urns on the corners of the top of the tomb, and an angel in the center. In addition there are square urns on the “wings” of the mausoleum and a winged cherub under the date the mausoleum was built.

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

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What this appears to demonstrate is that though one could order the Venetian Gothic Mausoleum from the Steam Marble Works Company, one could also have this design customized to suit the tastes of the family.

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