Wilhelm Portland Memorial Flower Rooms

Part of my fascination with the Wilhelm Portland Memorial is the combination of the ornate with the mundane, and the unconsidered problems of running an indoor cemetery. This all comes together in the flower rooms.

People bring flowers to graves.  Outdoors this isn’t a problem — but how do you leave flowers when a headstone may be 10 feet over your head?

Every grave in mausoleum has a small vase attached to it.  On a few of the older historic graves these are a granite extension of the headstone or attached in a permanent fashion  — on the newer graves there’s a small ring that holds a detachable vase. These are the vases Tender Branson stole his flowers from.

So that solves the problem of where to put the flowers — but what about people who show up with a full bouquet that’s not going to fit into the small vase?  Each floor of the mausoleum has several flower rooms.  These are rooms or alcoves with a sink, extension claw for placing the vases, garbage can, and a set of flower clippers attached to the sink via a chain. 

These rooms are a time machine through the history of commercial kitchen/bathroom design.  Sometimes you’ll have several decades of design trends in a single, frankenstein-ish room.

The flower rooms are a bizarre intrusion of the practical into the otherwise dream-ish world of the dead.