Bowman Mausoleum's Mourning Man
The sad-looking man, top hat and coat on his arm, holds a large key over his heart while clutching a floral wreath in his other hand. In afternoon light, the sight is eerie (a night visit would be even more unnerving).
The slightly larger than life-size marble figure is of local tanning magnate John Porter Bowman. In 1880, Bowman's wife passed away; he had lost a daughter in 1879, and another years earlier. To remember them, he had a grandiose mausoleum constructed in Laurel Glen Cemetery, dwarfing surrounding grave markers. Bowman commissioned an architect, stoneworkers and a famous sculptor to create his vision of post-mortem devotion. The structure, comprised of 750 tons of granite and 50 tons of marble, cost $75,000 -- a heap o' money at the time.
The interior features sculpted busts of the deceased, and ornate stonework around the crypts. Mirrors are positioned to make the room seem larger than it really is.
When completed in 1881, the mausoleum became a local tourist attraction. Thousands converged on the cemetery to gawk. Bowman had a guest book placed inside the chamber, and hired an usher/guide to conduct short tours.
Then Bowman built an elaborate summer home -- Laurel Hall -- right across the road. While the house was under construction, he had the grieving version of himself created and installed on the tomb's steps. Eventually he moved into Laurel Hall permanently. From that vantage, he could gaze over at the Bowman sculpture ready to unlock the mausoleum. It must have been weird.
Bowman himself died in 1891, and joined the rest of the family in this unique sanctuary.
Was it all sadness and gloom for Bowman in the final years of his life, or did the statue free him to have fun? We're pretty certain he didn't pose for "mirror image" gag photos on the mausoleum's steps (the statue on the left, him on the right).
Today, you can visit the mausoleum by pulling off Route 103. The interior is mostly visible, but locked. Over time, parts of the Bowman statue have cracked and been repaired. He left money after his death to maintain the mausoleum and grounds in perpetuity.