A large mausoleum sits crumbling in the Warren Union Cemetery in Warren, Ohio. Most would probably wonder to themselves how a mausoleum could even be abandoned in the first place. In this case, it can simply be put down to neglect; the fact that nobody wanted to take care of it, and it was left to rot, sitting victim to the elements for decades. While both cemeteries surrounding it continue to be maintained, this poor mausoleum continues to be left alone year after year.

The Oaklawn Mausoleum was originally a private mausoleum, built and dedicated on May 26, 1912. The mausoleum’s capacity was approximately 500 crypts, though far less than 500 people remain today. Although people had continued to be buried here until 1961, the original owners had abandoned all care for it somewhere between the 1930s and 1940s.  After the final burial in 1961, it sat until 1973, when it was finally inherited by the city of Warren.

Among the final burials was Sarah Betty “Bell” Glover Morris, born to Hannah Rebecca Glover, and Civil War soldier Henry Glover on November 29, 1868. Both parents are buried separate from her in the Leggett Cemetery in Edon, Ohio. Sarah died less than two weeks after her 93rd birthday on December 8, 1961. Her final resting place was in the Oaklawn Mausoleum.

Some other people within the mausoleum are members of the DeVoe family, including Harriet Watters DeVoe, and her husband George DeVoe. Harriet was born September 1, 1857. At the age of 20, she married George DeVoe, who at the time was working as a wholesale grocer on October 17, 1877. They had five children: William Watters, born August 29, 1878, died January 21, 1888. Their son Clarence Edgar was born December 2, 1880, and went on to also work as a wholesale grocer in Warren. Florence Jane was born May 30, 1888 shortly before the death of William. Florence went on to attend Maryland College in 1910 in Lutherville, Maryland. Clara Louise was born July 8, 1890, and later became a student at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio. Emma Marie, born August 23, 1894 later became a student at Warren High School.

With repair and maintenance costs far too high, and bouts of vandalism over the years making it worse, it has sat mostly ignored since the 1970s. By 1998, as the mausoleum had deteriorated into severely poor conditions, the Warren City Council decided finally to close and condemn it, citing it as structurally unsound. At this time, there were at least 370 known people interred within its walls, though during instances of vandalism in the 1970s, 1996, and 2007, some of the bodies were pulled out and desecrated. 

Over decades now, the mausoleum continues to decay and crumble, falling into further disrepair, with most likely no hope of being saved. It’s truly wild to think how a place like this can fall to pieces.

Normally, the places I photograph were once full of life, and are now the opposite. In this case, it never truly was full of life like the others, but is an equally contrasting life that it now lives. 

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