Perched on a mound a few hundred feet from the Granite Gate that graces the entrance and stands as a symbol of the separation of the outside world from the Cypress Lawn sanctuary, sits the grand mausoleum of Andrew Jackson Pope, the man who started with partner James Talbot, the greatest lumber company of the Gold Rush, which is still in business today. At the time Cypress Lawn opened in 1892, a carriage road as well as streetcars and a rail line went right by the gate. At first, the only major structure you would see there was the chapel, but in 1895 the Pope memorial became the showcase and display advertisement for the new cemetery.

 
 

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If you peek inside the orate mausoleum gate you will notice that Andrew Jackson Pope died in 1878, fourteen years before the opening of Cypress Lawn. So how did he get here? Like many others, such as James Flood, his family decided to remove his San Francisco mausoleum and remains and relocate to Cypress Lawn.

By the 1890s, the “writing was on the tombs” for San Francisco cemeteries. It was simply a question of time before further burials would be forbidden in the city…and, perhaps the unthinkable – the dead might actually be evicted. The first happened in 1900; the second took longer because of prolonged court battles and public elections. But during the 1930s and 1940s, some 130,000 remains from the Masonic, Oddfellows, Calvary, and Laurel Hill cemeteries were re-interred in Colma. About 35,000 remains from Laurel Hill were moved to Cypress Lawn and are placed in Pioneer Mound.

Hamden Homes Nobles, the founder of the first non-sectarian Colma cemetery, convinced the Pope family to relocate. He offered them a prime spot, likely at a handsome discount, reasoning that when one beheld the magnificent structure with the stunning stained glass and realized who was buried there, the rich and not-so-rich would want to spend eternity at Cypress Lawn, as well.

 

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The stained glass window, which brilliantly captures the morning light, was done by Edward La Potka, a leading artist of the era.

 

Hailing from successful New England mining and shipping families, Mr. Pope and Mr. Talbot traveled six months to San Francisco, arriving in late 1848 with a singular mission to provide lumber for the new land. Within three years, they established their saw mill and shipping company in Puget Sound and were soon the  largest lumber company in the area, supplying  huge quantities of wood to Washington state and San Francisco.

The company was hurt by the market securities crash of 1907 but managed to survive for many years until the demand for lumber a generation later in the Second World War gave them a substantial resurgence. Gradually the company diversified into other types of products and real estate ventures. While the business operations of Pope and Talbot were concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, the families built their palatial homes the San Francisco Bay Area. Mr. Talbot was buried Laurel Hill in 1881 and transferred to Cypress Lawn in 1918.

 

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Terry Hamburg, Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation

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