Beyond Cinespia: Hollywood Forever’s Lesser-Known Sights | SoCal Wanderer | Food & Discovery


Located on Los Angeles’ Santa Monica Boulevard, immediately behind the Paramount Studios lot, Hollywood Forever Cemetery has change into well-known for greater than its celeb graves.

In reality, it is also treasured as a vibrant cultural vacation spot through the day and at evening — and for a lot of various kinds of occasions.

In addition to its annual Día de los Muertos celebration, which is the most important of its sort outdoors of Mexico, there’s additionally the annual summer time movie screening sequence hosted by Cinespia on the cemetery’s Fairbanks Lawn and various concert events (some open air), creator readings and e-book releases, yoga lessons and even podcast tapings.

This is not your common solemn graveyard. This is Hollywood, in any case. And it might shock you ways its namesake cemetery is teeming with life.

Some guests are first drawn to Hollywood Forever for its scores of well-known people who’ve been buried there, however they keep for a few of the cemetery’s most intriguing hidden treasures — which give loads of purpose to make a detour or perhaps a particular journey on any day of the week, no ticket mandatory.

Here are six of the perfect choices for first-timers or seasoned cemetery crawlers working their approach by way of Hollywood Forever — as really helpful by a few of the specialists who realize it the perfect.

1. A Freemasons Historic Gathering Spot

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A castle-like building stands before a grassy patch and a paved loop. The building stands among tall palm trees. Above is a bright blue sky with small, fluffy clouds dotted sporadically.

Throngs of individuals go to Hollywood Forever and its Masonic Lodge yearly for summertime cinema, indie rock concert events, and even comedy — all cultural occasions that actually don’t have anything to do with demise or dying. | Sandi Hemmerlein

At the Santa Monica Boulevard entrance of Hollywood Forever (previously often called Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery when it was first established in 1899) stands what as we speak serves because the cemetery’s administration advanced. But it has way more esoteric origins than that — as a result of the 6,700-square-foot construction as soon as served as the house base for Hollywood’s neighborhood of Freemasons.

A Masonic structure at Hollywood Forever Cemetery | Sandi Hemmerlein

You may not be capable to inform at first look, however this Spanish Baroque-style landmark certainly served because the neighborhood heart for members of the Southland Lodge No. 617. It was designed by the architectural staff of Morgan, Walls and Clements, accomplished in 1931 and designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in March 2022.

The masons vacated it in 1967 — and after that, it was primarily deserted for 3 many years. But in a serious turnaround, the previous Southland Masonic Temple — or just the “Masonic Lodge,” because it’s now colloquially identified — was included within the cemetery’s nationwide historic landmark designation upon its one centesimal birthday in 1999.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”318″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A stained glass window with a Masonic symbol at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. | Sandi Hemmerlein

A stained glass window with behind the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. | Sandi Hemmerlein

There are some exterior clues to the magical power that is still inside — just like the round stained-glass window seen on the second ground of the rear of the constructing. Its inside, alternatively, is simply accessible to ticketed visitors of particular occasions, when you’ll be able to discover the upstairs Eastern Star Room (the place the Southland Masonic Temple’s girls’s auxiliary as soon as met) and its ornate carved stone fire — which, at one time, had been walled-over. Then, sit down in the principle assembly room and look as much as admire its high-beamed ceiling.

2. Roaming Peacocks

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A blue peacock with its feathers tucked behind it sits on a ledge. Behind it is a white marble tile wall.

On weekdays through the day, peacocks and peahens roam the grounds freely, perching on ledges, grooming beside graves and strutting throughout lawns. | Sandi Hemmerlein

If you have solely visited Hollywood Forever throughout a large-scale occasion or on a daily weekend, you would possibly’ve missed some of the beloved sights the cemetery has to supply: dozens of peafowl. When the cemetery will get crowded, they’re housed in chicken pens on the north aspect of the cemetery. But on weekdays through the day, the showy-feathered male peacocks and extra subtly suited feminine peahens roam the grounds freely, perching on ledges, grooming beside graves and strutting throughout lawns like they personal the place.

A male peacock shows off its colorful feathers.

According to tour information Karie Bible, who’s been bringing teams by way of Hollywood Forever since 2002, peacocks symbolize good luck. And throughout late summer time molting season, she says, if you happen to discover one of many colourful tail feathers that the males have shed mendacity on the bottom, you are welcome to select it up and take it dwelling (and even strive your luck on the lottery). Just do not harass the birds themselves or attempt to feed them! They’re cared for very properly by the cemetery’s groundskeepers.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />Door-length stained glass windows framed in white are along a building covered in green ivy.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”768″ peak=”576″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />Door-length stained glass windows framed in white are along a building covered in green ivy.

1/3 Peacock imagery is embedded in stained glass home windows subsequent to the flower store. | Sandi Hemmerlein

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A stained glass window with two peacocks is on a wall covered in green vines. A white marble statue of a young woman stands in front of the window.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”768″ peak=”576″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A stained glass window with two peacocks is on a wall covered in green vines. A white marble statue of a young woman stands in front of the window.

2/3 Peacock imagery is embedded in stained glass home windows subsequent to the flower store. | Sandi Hemmerlein

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A dark navy blue dome is accented with gold etchings of peacocks. The dome is split up into triangle panels, lined by decorative gold lines. In each panel, there are two peacocks facing one another, their bodies and tails forming a circle with one another.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”768″ peak=”576″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A dark navy blue dome is accented with gold etchings of peacocks. The dome is split up into triangle panels, lined by decorative gold lines. In each panel, there are two peacocks facing one another, their bodies and tails forming a circle with one another.

3/3 Depictions of peacocks adorn the circa 1928 Hollywood Columbarium dome of the cemetery chapel. | Sandi Hemmerlein

Peacocks additionally characterize immortality in Christianity — and you’ll find depictions of those fanciful feathered associates adorning the circa 1928 Hollywood Columbarium dome of the cemetery chapel and, as Bible factors out on her tour, embedded in stained glass home windows subsequent to the flower store. To discover a few of the 40-some-odd actual stay birds — which have been a function of the cemetery for over 17 years — search for them hanging out by the Beth Olam Jewish Cemetery, the place such luminaries as voice actor Mel Blanc and actress Estelle Getty are interred.

3. Empty Gravesites

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A bronze statue that has turned a gray-ish green from oxidation is a sculpture of Johnny Ramone. He has long hair and is kneeling as he plays an electric guitar. Below, a plaque reads: Johnny Ramone, Ramones.

An eight-foot bronze statue of musician Johnny Ramone was erected close to the south shoreline of Sylvan Lake upon his demise in 2004. | Sandi Hemmerlein

That’s proper — you possibly can end up “visiting” a grave at Hollywood Forever that is truly empty! That may be as a result of the proprietor(s) of the plot have not truly handed away but, as is the case with the “Doxie Tombstone,” a bench lined in bronze dachshunds designed by author Mike Szymanski, who’s nonetheless very a lot alive at simply 61 years previous, for his last resting place. The marker immortalizes every of the “doxies” that Szymanski has shared his life with — and its epitaph reads, “Still bringing people together.”

Another future resident of Hollywood Forever with a marker that precedes the arrival of his stays is Johnny Ramone. Upon his 2004 demise, an eight-foot, bronze statue of him was erected close to the south shoreline of Sylvan Lake. Although loads of music followers come pay tribute to him on the web site, not everybody is aware of that his ashes will not be interred there till after his widow, who’s holding onto them, passes away.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A bronze sculpture, turned gray-ish green from oxidation, of a terrier dog. The sculpture sits on a red marble slab. On the front it reads, "In memory of Toto." On its side, it reads, "This monument is dedicated to the memory of the beloved Toto from the 1939 film, "The Wizard of Oz." After the death of Toto, originally named Terry, in ... Owner and trainer Carl Spitz buried the Cairn Terrier at his ranch in Studio City. The 1958 construction of the Ventura Freeway destroyed her resting place.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”768″ peak=”576″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A bronze sculpture, turned gray-ish green from oxidation, of a terrier dog. The sculpture sits on a red marble slab. On the front it reads, "In memory of Toto." On its side, it reads, "This monument is dedicated to the memory of the beloved Toto from the 1939 film, "The Wizard of Oz." After the death of Toto, originally named Terry, in ... Owner and trainer Carl Spitz buried the Cairn Terrier at his ranch in Studio City. The 1958 construction of the Ventura Freeway destroyed her resting place.

1/3 A life-sized bronze sculpture of Terry, the canine who portrayed Toto in “The Wizard of Oz,” was devoted at Hollywood Forever in 2011. | Sandi Hemmerlein

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A pink marble obelisk stands in front of a white rose bush. On the top of the obelisk you can read, "Hattie McDaniel 1895-1952 ... Gone With the Wind."

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”768″ peak=”576″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A pink marble obelisk stands in front of a white rose bush. On the top of the obelisk you can read, "Hattie McDaniel 1895-1952 ... Gone With the Wind."

2/3 In 1999, new cemetery proprietor Tyler Cassity put in a pink marble obelisk as a tribute to actress Hattie Daniels, who was denied a plot on the then-Hollywood Memorial Park which denied Black girls to buy a plot on the time of her passing. | Sandi Hemmerlein

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A white marble bench is covered with bronze statues of dachshunds gathered around. Some are seen laying on the arm and back of the bench while others are resting at the foot of the bench. On the back of the bench it reads, "...bringing people together... Mike Szymanski."

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”768″ peak=”576″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A white marble bench is covered with bronze statues of dachshunds gathered around. Some are seen laying on the arm and back of the bench while others are resting at the foot of the bench. On the back of the bench it reads, "...bringing people together... Mike Szymanski."

3/3 The “Doxie Tombstone,” a bench lined in bronze dachshunds is by and for author Mike Szymanski, who’s nonetheless very a lot alive at simply 61 years previous, for his last resting place. | Sandi Hemmerlein

Some gravesites honor the useless however will all the time stay empty. These monuments, often called cenotaphs, rejoice the lives and achievements of actresses like Jayne Mansfield (buried at Fairview Cemetery in Pennsylvania) and Hattie McDaniel, whose final want was to be buried there. When McDaniel died in 1952, the then-Hollywood Memorial Park wouldn’t enable a Black girl to buy a plot — however in 1999, new cemetery proprietor Tyler Cassity put in the pink marble obelisk as a tribute to her.

Terry, the canine who portrayed Toto in “The Wizard of Oz,” was buried at a pet cemetery that was later destroyed for the development of the 101 Freeway — however in her honor, a marker that includes a life-sized likeness of her in bronze sculpted by Roman Gal was devoted at Hollywood Forever in 2011. You can discover it between the Cathedral Mausoleum and the staircase main all the way down to the Fairbanks Memorial Reflecting Pool within the Sunken Garden.

4. A Memorial to Local Bombing Victims

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A statue of an angel draped in cloth and holding a book stands next to a large white marble memorial. At the top of the large white marble memorial is a bronze statue of an eagle.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”768″ peak=”576″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A statue of an angel draped in cloth and holding a book stands next to a large white marble memorial. At the top of the large white marble memorial is a bronze statue of an eagle.

1/3 The Los Angeles Times Bombing Memorial remembers the 21 folks killed wh en the Los Angeles Times headquarters was bombed in 1911. | Sandi Hemmerlein

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A white marble statue of an angel draped in cloth and clutching a book. Behind the statue are large branches of a tree.

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2/3 A white marble statue of an angel resides by the Los Angeles Times Bombing Memorial at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. | Sandi Hemmerlein

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A bronze statue of an eagle is perched atop a white marble rock formation. Behind it are green branches of a tree.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”768″ peak=”576″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A bronze statue of an eagle is perched atop a white marble rock formation. Behind it are green branches of a tree.

3/3 An eagle, the image of The Times, watches over the Los Angeles Times Bombing Memorial at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. | Sandi Hemmerlein

Key figures from the historical past of the Los Angeles Times are buried at Hollywood Forever, together with former publishers Harry Chandler and Harrison Grey Otis. But there’s one other, associated memorial: one which honors the 21 individuals who died within the 1910 bombing of the L.A. Times headquarters by members of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers union.

A historic plaque on the face of the monument, which was devoted in 1911, is addressed to “Our Martyred Men” — all however one in every of whom had been Times workers. An extended passage describes how “Living, they stood fast for a high principle; dying, they passed the standard on for us to uphold.”

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The names of every of the fallen are additionally inscribed on the backside, with needs for “peace to their ashes.” “Sweet be their eternal rest,” it goes on to say, and “sublime their solace!” Watching over the memorial to at least one aspect is an eagle — the image of The Times — and, on the opposite aspect, an angel.

It’s a reverent tribute to those “Sons of Duty,” one which significantly resonates with “Gourmet Ghosts” creator James Bartlett. “Finding it at Hollywood Forever was a moment when I realized that events may get forgotten,” he says, “but history — and its victims — live on.”

5. Punk Rock Ducks Marching to the Beat of Their Own Quacks

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”378″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />Ducks walk from a pond in a line to a grave marked, "Dee Dee Ramone," where they're gathered and eat seeds from the ground. On either side of the grave are two American flags.

At the ring of a bell on sure days at 5 p.m., the black-colored Cayuga geese — nicknamed the “Ramones Ducks” — parade to the grave of Dee Dee Ramone at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. | Amelia G. and Forest Black

A flock of geese at Hollywood Forever has attended its personal “Rock n’ Roll High School” — and is now skilled to line up at dinnertime and parade to the grave of Dee Dee Ramone (born Douglas Glenn Colvin), who died in 2002 and is buried within the Garden of Legends. The geese even have their very own soundtrack: “Duckskrieg Bop,” a quackified rerecording of The Ramones’ basic “Blitzkrieg Bop.” At the ring of a bell on sure days at 5 p.m., the black-colored Cayuga geese — nicknamed the “Ramones Ducks” — know it is time to “Hey! Ho! Let’s go.”

The procession, which the native Canadian geese and different migratory birds have joined, is the creation of Hollywood locals Pleasant Gehman and Coyote Shivers — each of whom are musicians in their very own proper. They’re additionally each huge followers of the Ramones. But the Ramone’s Ducks routine began out merely and innocently sufficient in 2020 — because the pair would retreat to Hollywood Forever throughout COVID-19 lockdowns. “This never would’ve happened if it wasn’t for the pandemic,” Gehman insists. “[It was] a fun little thing during a really bleak time.” Besides, Shivers provides, “Everyone loves marching ducks.”

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”849″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />Two people are crouched at the gravesite of Dee Dee Ramone and offer seeds to ducks that are gathered at their feet.

Hollywood locals Pleasant Gehman and Coyote Shivers feed geese on the gravesite of Dee Dee Ramone for the night Ramones Duck Walk. | Amelia G. and Forest Black

Gehman isn’t any stranger to hanging out with birds. She grew up in rural Connecticut with parrots, she says, and even as soon as had a crow as a pet. But her attraction to Hollywood Forever — the place she’s been hanging out because the Seventies — goes past its wildlife inhabitants. “It is such an incredibly beautiful place of peace and tranquility of natural and architectural gorgeousness… whether it’s a cemetery or not,” she says.

With the cemetery’s permission, Gehman and Shivers go out-of-pocket to offer heathy feed to the fowl — like common wild chicken seed, peas, corn, floating duck pellets, cracked corn and extra. They advise guests to not give bread to the geese or another birds at Hollywood Forever (it is unhealthy for them) — and the cemetery prohibits feeding of any animals on the grounds as properly. Visit the Ramones Ducks Instagram account to learn the way to donate to the geese’ feed fund — and to comply with their antics.

6. An Art Deco Treasure Trove

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A reflection pool leads up to a white marble structure standing in the middle of a green field. Tall palm trees stand beyond.

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1/3 The annual public tour of Hollywood Forever Cemetery hosted each October by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles provides visitors a have a look at examples of the Egyptian Revival structure, resembling this gravesite for Douglas Fairbanks Sr. | Sandi Hemmerlein

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A white marble pyramid stands in the middle of a graveyard. The sides of the pyramid are outlined with a gray marble brick. A circle is cut out one of the faces of the pyramid.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”768″ peak=”576″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A white marble pyramid stands in the middle of a graveyard. The sides of the pyramid are outlined with a gray marble brick. A circle is cut out one of the faces of the pyramid.

2/3 The Lakeview Pyramid, a non-public household mausoleum that may accommodate seventeen caskets and twenty-four urns, stands in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. | Sandi Hemmerlein

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”425″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A white marble obelisk with the name, "Griffith" engraved at the base stands in a graveyard. It's surrounded by smaller graves and various trees.

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”768″ peak=”576″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A white marble obelisk with the name, "Griffith" engraved at the base stands in a graveyard. It's surrounded by smaller graves and various trees.

3/3 Hollywood Forever Cemetery is filled with examples of obelisks and mausoleums with Egyptian architectural motifs resembling Griffith J. Griffith’s obelisk. | Sandi Hemmerlein

The longest operating public tour of Hollywood Forever Cemetery is hosted each October by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles (ADSLA). Now in its thirty ninth yr, it is a “living history” tour that helps inform the cultural historical past of Los Angeles by way of actors and historians portraying such figures as silent film-era stars Douglas Fairbanks and Marion Davies, each of whom are buried on the cemetery.

According to ADSLA President Margot Gerber, the annual tour additionally provides visitors a have a look at examples of the Egyptian Revival structure that is typically related to the Art Deco aesthetic — because it grew to become fashionable in all points of design after the invention of King Tut’s tomb in 1922.

“The cemetery has several stunning examples of obelisks and mausoleums with Egyptian architectural motifs — including Egyptian scenes rendered in stained glass,” Gerber says. “Be sure to peek inside to see those!”

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Media=”(max-width: 1023px)” width=”566″ peak=”755″ data- data-lazy-load=”true” />A white marble tomb shaped like a rocket stands on a white marble pedestal. At the base of the pedestal is engraved, "Bigsby."

A pyramid-shaped tomb and a streamline-style marker within the form of the SM-65 Atlas rocket for the grave of Carl Morgan Bigsby, who died in 1959, exemplifjes the Art Deco presence at Hollywood Forever. | Sandi Hemmerlein

That’s not all — as a result of as Gerber describes, a more moderen pyramid-shaped tomb and a streamline-style marker within the form of the SM-65 Atlas rocket (for the grave of Carl Morgan Bigsby, who died in 1959) additionally exemplify the Art Deco presence at Hollywood Forever. To discover them, you’ll be able to discover by yourself — or be part of ADLA’s two- to three-hour Hollywood Forever tour (2022 date TBD).

Hollywood Forever Cemetery is situated at 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles 90038. The grounds are open day by day from 8:30 a.m. to five:30 p.m., with prolonged hours throughout sure cultural occasions. Some buildings might shut earlier (together with the Beth Olam Cemetery and Mausoleum, which can also be closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays).

Free parking is out there alongside a few of the cemetery’s inside roads. Pay consideration to signage, site visitors cones and painted curbs. You may park within the floor lot behind the Cathedral Mausoleum.

Please do not disturb or disrupt any funeral providers, and please do not {photograph} any mourners.

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