All along the gulf coast this time of year almost every city hosts a tour of their historic cemetery. Last night was the Old Biloxi Cemetery tour. Don’t worry if you missed it, because I believe this popular, not spooky, and FREE, open house tour will be held again next Tuesday Oct. 29, 2013.
This tour features costumed interpreters portraying those entombed at several locations. One of the plots interpreted this year is the mausoleum of Ed. Barq Sr. Malvaney had brought to my attention a while back that the plan for this mausoleum and several other monuments located in Mississippi are kept at the Tulane University’s Southeastern Architectural Archive. The plans for the monuments were created by the Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Co. of New Orleans, LA. Located in the finding aid for the Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Company Office Records, is the text that contains this information about the Barq Mausoleum:
Biloxi, MS. Barq, Ed, Sr. Mausoleum. 1943. Ralph G. Phillippi, architect. Weiblen Memorials. Pencil on tracing paper. 8 sheets.
It doesn’t seem like much but there is a lot of information there. We can surmise that Ralph G. Philippi was the Architect, Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Works Company supplied the material as well as was the builder of the mausoleum. The project took place in 1943 and contained a whopping EIGHT sheets of material. This is quite a bit of information for the plans of just one mausoleum. Considering that the similar sized John Mavar Sr. monument Weiblen built next to the Barq mausoleum only necessitated one sheet.
Biloxi, MS. Mavar, John. Tomb. 1944. Ralph G. Phillippi, architect, Weiblen Memorials. Ink and colored pencil on illustration board. 1 sheet.
Is there a difference as to why the Mavar monument is referred to as a “Tomb” and the Barq monument is a “Mausoleum”? I do not know. But I would propose that a glance over the plans might offer some answers. One impressive fact is that these designs were completed and possibly built during war-time when travel and rationing were in full effect. The monuments are very similar, being made from granite that likely came from Weiblen’s quarry in Elberton City, Georgia. While a smooth polished surface was used for the front facades, the sides and backs of the monuments use a stately quarry face. While the Mavar monument has a fancy granite base I am more interested in the Barq monument’s concrete base, because the concrete base allowed the Weiblen company to unobtrusively stamp their signature on their fine work.
The finding aid does list one additional Biloxi commission that was much earlier than the Barq and Mavar monuments.
Gillen, Harry J. Monument, Biloxi, MS. 1919. Ink on tracing linen. 1 sheet.
I did find some Gillen family monuments in the Old Biloxi cemetery but none of them had the name Harry J. Gillen on them or any markings that led me to believe they were crafted by the Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Works.
These monuments represent a fine level of design and craftsmanship that is proving to stand the test of time. The finding aid shows that Weiblen designed monuments in several other locations in Mississippi. The finding aid also admits that the records are incomplete so there maybe a Weiblen Works design quietly sitting in many a Mississippi marble orchard. So get out there, check it out and let us know if there is one located near you!