Friday, December 30, 2011

Forest Lawn Memorial Park - Glendale, California

There are nine cemeteries managed by the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Association. The one most visited by tourists is the park located in Glendale. In 1917 its founder, Dr.Hubert Eaton, wrote of his vision for how a cemetery should be built. He thought that cemeteries were "unsightly and depressing stone yards". The dream he had is written in his poem "The Builders Creed". It is written on a couple of the buildings in the park.
 Sorry if you were hoping to read the creed, I was more taken with the statuary in front of it. Essentially what Dr. Eaton said in the poem was that the memorial park of his dreams was to be filled with "towering trees, singing birds, sweeping lawns, splashing fountains, beautiful statuary, noble memorial architecture with interiors full of light and color, and redolent of the world's history and romances". He wanted no upright markers on the graves, only flat markers level with the ground. The grave pictured below is one of the more colorful ones decorated for the holiday season. Statuary or benches can be bought and placed by the markers.
One of our stops in the park was at the Memorial Terrace which houses a stained glass re-creation of Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper". We also visited the Hall of the Crucifixion-Resurrection where there is one of the world's largest religious paintings by Jan Styka. The crucifixtion picture is 45 by 195 foot, and was intended to be on display for the 1904 world's fair in St.Louis. However, there was no building large enough for it at the fair. Forty years later Dr. Eaton built an auditorium for it. In the same auditorium he also placed a large painting of the resurrection. Both are accompanied by dramatic narration and music. Below is a picture of the church which is a part of the auditorium. The church is a replica of a cathedral which he saw in Orvieto, Italy. There are several other churches in the garden which also are exact replicas of  famous churches. 
Some of the inspiration is the park is more of a patriotic nature. There is a Court of Freedom section in the park which has a large mosaic of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Our last stop was at the Forest Lawn Museum which displays rare biblical coins, statuary and paintings. It also has 11th-to15th- century cathedral stained glass. I must say it was a most unusual cemetery visit for us!

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