And, well, you should just stop and check ’em both out, anyway.
But the Grim Reaper doesn’t take bribes.
In 1849, Bowman married a woman named Jennie Gates and had two daughters. The first, Addie, was born in 1854, but died at four months old. Their second daughter, Ella, was born in 1860. She died at 19. And then his wife died less than a year later.
But Bowman wasn’t about to let his family disappear into the earth.
Right after the death of his wife, he began two constructions projects in the town of Shrewsbury, right across the road from each other…a mausoleum and a mansion.
Meanwhile, across the street, he built a gorgeous Victorian mansion called Laurel Hall that, in typical wealthy fashion, was only used at first as a summer house.
But he did eventually move into the house permanently. Died there, actually, right across the street from the remains of his loved ones. He died in 1891, 11 years after the death of his wife. After that, the whole area of Laurel Glen Cemetery and Laurel Hall went to a trust for perpetual upkeep.
Before I saw the place, I definitely had some misconceptions about the tomb. I’d seen pics of the statue, but no real context. I thought it might be cheesy, like a Hope Cemetery sculpture, and that it was hubristic to have a statue of yourself mourning at your own grave. Rich people, you know?
I was way wrong.
Driving up, we barely saw the cemetery, but the mausoleum loomed over the road on a rise just feet away from the edge of the road. We pulled into the cemetery and parked, immediately noting the mansion across the street, but not yet knowing its connection.
From the back, the mausoleum looks plain, but sticks out in the small, humble cemetery for being the only mausoleum. It faced the mansion and the hills beyond. The greenhouse, which I at first mistook to be a chapel, is still there.
After all, for 11 years, that’s how he experienced his family. They entombed together, he on the outside, just across the street, alive and alone, waiting to join them.
On the door of the mausoleum were hung a few pages covered in plastic and affixed to a wooden board. They told the story of both Laurel Glen Cemetery and Laurel Hill. It was then that we learned about the mansion behind us, with its front lawn fountain and adjacent stable.