Architect: Fred T. Weber, 1946
"Harrow the house of the dead; look shining at
New styles of
architecture, a change of heart."
W.H. Auden, "Sir, No Man's Enemy"
Though one does not think of a cemetery as a likely destination for a pleasant sojourn, if one is in the properly reverential mood for the perusal of some interesting architecture, this sprawling indoor mausoleum is the place. Once advertised as the largest indoor cemetery west of the Mississippi, it boasts a wide variety of well-executed architectural designs (beginning with the Mediterranean style facing the road), and has more marble in different varieties inside than in perhaps any other Portland-area building.
The cemetery was first designed as a crematorium and as a place to store cremains, but later expanded to whole-body interment as well. Begin in the Rose Room (the original building) and explore the hallways lined with names and dates of yesteryear. From there, the necropolis expanded architecturally over the decades (including work by Richard Sundeleaf), and with stained glass casting its light inside and lots of skylights, it makes for a fascinating experience. Highlights include a multi-floor cutout looking down to a fountain and - atop Oak's Bottom Wildlife Refuge - the largest hand-painted outdoor mural in the U.S.
This area is named after English immigrant John Sellwood, an Episcopal minister, pioneer, and land baron who bought 321 acres in this area for $5,400 in 1866. He later sold the parcel to a real-estate company seeking to create a market for Portland's increasing housing needs. Intended as a suburb, Sellwood's first homes were unexceptional and designed for blue-collar workers. Sellwood became its own town in 1887, only to merge with Portland six years later.Less Text