When you wander Woodlawn’s grounds you will find unique memorials that tell the stories of those in our care. During the month of February, we encourage you to discover some of the remarkable love stories of those at rest. Wedding pictures decorate spaces in our community mausoleums. Hearts, wedding rings and romantic inscriptions are etched into monuments. Several of the private mausoleums contain symbols and works of art that remind us that true love is eternal.
There are many monuments at Woodlawn that are tributes to undying love. On the Columbine Plot, the Moritz Philipp Mausoleum has an incredible set of doors with images of paintings that replicates the front of the couple’s Fifth Avenue home. Philipp was an investment banker and art collector who married painter Jane Peterson. As a young woman, Peterson was known for landscapes and scenes where people gathered to enjoy beautiful settings. She spent time with Louis Comfort Tiffany when she painted the gardens of his Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall. If you look closely at the mausoleum, there are portraits of the couple hidden in the top of granite columns that frame the entry. Peterson’s works are in the collections of many galleries and museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sam Lewis, the prolific composer and inductee in the Songwriters Hall of Fame married an Irish girl and after great success settled down in an apartment on the west side of Central Park. The man who wrote over 800 songs including: Dinah, Mammy, How Ya Gonna Keep ‘em Down on the Farm (After they’ve seen Paree)?and I’m Sittin’ on top of the World, traveled extensively with his bride. Cuba, Mexico and other tropical destinations were among the places where they vacationed. When Anne Lewis passed away in 1955, Sam selected a sizeable heart shaped monument. At the base it reads I Heard a Forest Praying, a Lewis’ composition about life, love and loss.
Love has been discovered upon occasion at Woodlawn, when grieving individuals encounter one another on our grounds. Following the tragic losses of their spouses, Broadway star Marilyn Miller and Jack Pickford (brother of silent film star Mary Pickford) met while they were building private mausoleums. The couple married in 1922, at “Pickfair,” the famous Hollywood home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Images of the celebrity couple were featured in all the tabloid papers. Unfortunately the marriage didn’t last, but both Miller and Pickford went on to find love again.
The spouses of several entertainers remembered at Woodlawn served as the managers and promoters of the talented individuals they loved. Ulysses “Slow Kid” Thompson abandoned his career for awhile to promote his wife Florence Mills, “the Queen of Happiness”. Pedro Knight, a well known trumpet player, spent most of his life backing his wife, Celia Cruz, “the Queen of Salsa,”who rose to international stardom. Gladys Hampton, wife of “the King of the Vibes,” served as the booking agent, accountant and manager of her musician husband for decades. When she passed, Lionel Hampton paid tribute to her by donating funds to establish the Gladys Hampton Houses in Harlem.