Gothic Styles

In the ‘Nineteenth Century Mortuary Architectural Styles’ post by Jason Holm, he writes, “Victorian sensibilities merged with Romantic tendencies and thrust revivals of Gothic, Classical, and Egyptian architectural styles in the mainstream.”  There was not one Gothic style but many:

Venetian Gothic

The Spotts Family Mausoleum erected in the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville Kentucky is designed in the Venetian Gothic style which 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.  At the time the Spotts Family Mausoleum was constructed 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.’”  It is likely that the mausoleums was constructed and built by the Steam Marble Works in Philadelphia.

Victorian Gothic

The massive Dexter Family Tomb in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnat, Ohio has many features of the medieval cathedral from which it was inspired.  Typical of Gothic architecture, are the pointed arches which became popular in Western building designs during the 12th Century.  Visually the pointed arch is lighter and also allowed builders to create taller windows which gave the buildings an airy feeling.  In addition to the visual lightness, the pointed arch was stronger than the rounded arch which was popularized in Romanesque architectural designs.  The arches are highly decorated with multiple moldings giving the windows a delicate appearance.  In addition to the decorative moldings each arched window has small decorative points projecting from the curves in the arch—this is known as cusping.  These are formed using small curves.  It is where these small curves meet and form a point or cusp.  Lastly, each window has a hood molding that forms at the side of the window and then culminates in the pointed arch.  Flanking both sides of the tomb are flying buttresses.  These highly decorative arches gave additional support to the walls within a building.  The buttresses were positioned at the points of greatest stress and added additional structural support.  Each of the flying buttresses are decorated with tall pinnacles which add weight to the buttress.  The connecting pieces between the buttresses and the building are referred to as flyers and even those are highly decorated with tracery and quatrefoils.

French Gothic

The Belmont Mausoleum, in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, is a near replica of the Chapel of Saint Hubert; the original is in Amboise, France, and is the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci.  The mausoleum was completed in 1913 and is a masterpiece of late-fifteenth-century French Gothic architecture.  The front façade displays two intricately carved sculptures.  The chapel has many architectural features that were common to Gothic design:  Gargoyles—The spouts that were designed to divert rainwater away from the building were often elaborately designed to look like grotesque animals and human forms known as gargoyles.  These figures became popular in France during the Middle Ages, though they can be found in other countries during that time, as well.  Hood molding—If you look above the scene of the stag, there is a three-sided molding, also known as a drip molding.  Pinnacles—These ornamented structures are usually pointed and are found on the corners of the Saint Hubert Chapel.  They are often found on the buttresses of Gothic buildings.  Stepped buttresses—in the chapel, the stepped buttresses can be seen of the front of the building’s sides.  These are a mass of masonry built against a wall to give the building additional support and strength.  The buttresses on the chapel are stepped, meaning in this case, the buttress has a wider segment, then on top of that is a smaller one, and still one more smaller buttress on top of that.  Topping the buttress is a gargoyle. Trefoil window—In the middle of the gable on the front of the chapel is a roundel, a small circular frame.  Inside the roundel is a trefoil—three-lobed form—in this case, a window.  Spire—The tall, oxidized copper structure tapering up from the roof is a steeple or a spire.

Castellated Gothic

The main gate at the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago was build in 1864, designed by famed architect William Boyington.  The gate is constructed of Joliet limestone in the Castellated Gothic style which is easily identifiable because of the distinctive battlements at the top of the building.  The gate, at first glance, looks like an ancient castle—hence the name of the style!  The massive square tower and the hexagonal towers that punctuate the building give it power and strength.

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