Exotic Revival Architecture

William Allen Rawson

Born November 2, 1810 – Craftsbury, Orleans County, Vermont

Died September 11, 1879 – Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa


Julia A. Root Rawson

Born January 21, 1818 – Montague, Franklin County, Massachusetts

Died July 31, 1865 – Columbus Muscogee County, Georgia


Florida Fort Rawson

Born April 1840

Died June 30, 1881

The honey-colored Rawson Family mausoleum was built in 1880 in the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.  The initials “W. A.” above the doorway indicate the primogenitor of the family who is buried in the tomb long with several family members.  William A. Rawson was a prominent Atlanta merchant with extensive property holdings.

According to Images of America: Historic Oakland Cemetery by Tevi Taliaferro (Arcadia Publishing, 2001, page 44), the mausoleum is an “example of the Exotic Revival architecture, this structure has elements of Greek Revival, including pilasters, or flat piers, attached to the walls and a pediment.”

If you peer through the elaborate doors into the mausoleum there is a round stained-glass window featuring a dove carrying an olive.  The circle of yellow glass produces and halo effect around the vivid purple glass displaying the dove descending.

Many symbols found on gravestones have multiple meanings. The dove is one of those.  Several references in the Bible refer to the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:16 reads, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.” In Mark 1:10 the Bible says, “And Straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him.” Again in John 1:32, the Bible reads, “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.”

Along with the dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit, the dove is also closely associated with peace, often depicted with a sprig of an olive in its beak. This, too, originated in the Bible. After the waters receded in the story of Noah, the dove appears. Genesis 8:11, “And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off; so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.”   It was a sign of God’s forgiveness.

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