I was at Old Calvary today on other business, so I did not have time to find out what this is all about or get better pictures. But it looks like the Johnston Mausoleum, a centerpiece of Old Calvary Cemetery in Queens, might be coming down. Surrounded by scaffolding it looks like the upper windows have been removed along with the artwork above the front doors. Click the image for a larger picture.
The formerly golden brown façade is now an ashen white, although that is probably what it was originally. The brown tone was probably the result of 138 years worth of dirt and grime accumulated on the surface.
Maybe this is actually a renovation under way. But why? And who’s paying for it? Is the structure to be turned into a publicly-accessible museum, or chapel? The inside of the mausoleum is said to contain a small chapel.
I have contacted descendants of the Johnston brothers interred in this massive tomb to see if they know anything about what’s going on here. I’ve received occasional contacts from surviving Johnston’s over the years, some of whom had no idea this mausoleum existed until they found my website.
I intend to contact the cemetery tomorrow to see what they’re willing to reveal. I might also just go back out there again and ask cemetery workers, though I don’t want to bother them as they remain busy with Covid-19 detail.
I looked through DOB records and found no work order or permit for a demolition, or anything else.
The only possible reason, I would think, for this building to come down is that it has become structurally unstable after crowning Calvary’s “Valley of the Mausoleums” since its completion in 1882.
Here’s how it used to look. I can’t lie, seeing surgery performed on this structure, which has been a fascination for me since 2002, was quite jarring.