Keyhole Doorway

William Farrington Aldrich

March 11, 1853 Palmyra, New York

October 30, 1925 Birmingham, Alabama

William Farrington Aldrich was an Alabama Congressman from 1896 until 1901, a successful mining businessman, and editor/owner of the Birmingham Times.  Upon his death in Birmingham, his remains were cremated and interred in the Aldrich family mausoleum in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D. C.

The eclectic gray granite mausoleum mixes several styles into one harmonious building tucked into the side of a hill within the cemetery.  The four columns are a modified Ionic design.  The rounded-top windows are reminiscent of Romanesque architecture.  The centerpiece of the crypt, which dominates the mausoleum, is the keyhole doorway, a feature of Moorish architectural design.

The interior of the crypt has three kinds of gothic arches framing the alcoves that house the urns.  Each shelf has a different design—rounded arches separating the alcoves on the top, cinquefoil arches in the middle, and pointed arches on the bottom shelf.  Each urn is embellished with a flame.  Like many Christian symbols, the flame has several different meanings—eternal life, religious fervor, and vigilance.  The flame can also represent martyrdom.  Each of the urns has a name carved into it and holds the person’s cremated remains.

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