Richard’s Birthday Bus Tour of Public Mausolea of Los Angeles & Orange Counties

A Special Event Esotouric bus adventure: Richard’s one-time only Birthday Bus Tour of Public Mausolea of Los Angeles & Orange Counties hosted by Nathan Marsak.

For Richard’s once-a-year birthday bus adventure, we invite you to climb aboard for a 7-hour excursion exploring some of the greatest buildings in the Southland that you’ve never seen—unless you go to a lot of funerals.

Lunch is included in the ticket price.

The tour is hosted by Nathan Marsak, America’s wittiest historian of mortuary architecture. At each of the mausolea that we visit, Nathan will share the histories and structural secrets of these magnificent structures, revealing their compelling narratives through vintage photographs and insights into the architect, engineer and civic groups that funded each project.

During our on-the-bus portions of the tour, Nathan will argue a slightly more esoteric point: showing how the development of both these public mausolea and of Modernism in Los Angeles were concurrent and connected. They shared many of the same goals and tapped into the same revolutionary material: concrete, with its plasticity adapted to vernacular styles based on indigenous forms and innovative local building methods, and which also served the need for a durable and hygienic space. By tour’s end, Nathan will reveal these seemingly traditional structures as standing firmly within the West Coast Modernist canon.

Public Mausolea to be visited:

Forest Lawn (formerly Sunnyside Memorial Park) (Long Beach, 1922, Cecil Bryant, architect). This Spanish Renaissance gem is a showcase of ceramic tile design by the local CALCO Pottery headed by Rufus Keeler, later of Malibu Pottery. It contains unusually fine examples of pictorial stained glass, and its dome with its suspended Foucault’s Pendulum is a breathtaking architectural space.

Community Mausoleum (Anaheim, 1914, Charles E. Shattuck, architect). Constructed by the Pacific Mausoleum Company of Los Angeles. The interior tile and white Columbia marble is by Musto Sons-Keenan, and the cast iron & bronze grillwork by Pacific Ornamental. The proportions of the building are perfect Classic Greek Doric: narrowing shafts, triglyphs over the architrave, extending pediment. The ventilation, sanitation, and drainage are all patented designs of Charles E. Shattuck.

Fairhaven (Santa Ana, 1916, Charles E. Shattuck, architect). An Egyptian-Beaux Arts masterpiece conceived of by the visionary cemetery developer Oliver Linden Halsell, it is constructed of granite with thirty-two different kinds of marble and stone used on the interior floors and walls.

Calvary Mausoleum (East Los Angeles, 1936, Ross Montgomery, architect). The facade is Art Deco-Moorish-Hollywood, complete with processional columns capped with triumphant angels. The interior is inspired by Tuscan church interiors of the Quattrocento, rich with marble and stenciled faux wood. The mausoleum was financed in large part by Estelle Doheny, and is the final resting place for both she and her oilman husband Edward. For many decades, the bishops of Los Angeles reposed here, too, before being moved to the new downtown Cathedral in 2002.