Over the years, Columbus has been home to some truly impressive architecture.
Nearly 100 years ago, the Columbus Mausoleum Company set out to build our city’s most iconic mausoleum. Green Lawn Abbey opened for business in 1929 and unlike so many other incredible old buildings, it’s still standing today.
The Abbey started as a community mausoleum. Throughout history, mausoleums were constructed by individual families. From simple to extravagant, having a place in a mausoleum when you died was directly linked to you or your family’s socioeconomic standing.
But the public mausoleum concept changed that. The Abbey offered crypts within the existing building that could be purchased individually.
In the early 20th century, Columbus was home to a lot of new money. Industries around Ohio were booming and many of our city’s richest residents were building the elaborate mansions that we feature so often in our Lost Mansions series.
Some members of these important families are interred at the Abbey today. There are members of the Sells family, of circus fame, George Karl, a beloved mayor of Columbus, and Howard Thurston, a world-renowned magician.
Green Lawn Abbey is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in large part due to its architecture.
The Abbey was constructed with high-quality materials and built in the Palladio-inspired neoclassical style. Andrea Palladio was a 16th-century Italian architect and his influence can be seen in the almost villa-like structure of The Abbey.
All of the Abbey is beautiful, but the most visually stunning part of the building has to be the Tuscan-style portico. Inside the abbey, you’ll find free-standing marble columns and gorgeous stained glass windows.
The windows were made by the Rossbach Art Glass Company. The company was active here in Columbus from the early 1900s through 1944. Most of the stained glass at the Abbey was made in the Art Deco style, depicting different biblical stories.
By the end of the 20th century, Green Lawn Abbey was in a state of decline. It was frequently a target of vandals and funding wasn’t available to maintain the upkeep. In 2008, the Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association was formed and they began a transformation process of the abbey.
Today, you can visit the Abbey for a variety of events throughout the year. If you’d like to help in restoration efforts, you can visit the Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association website right here.