Descending the stairs from the main level of the Great Mausoleum one encounters a charming corridor where sunlight meets decorative glass windows in an explosion of color and beauty. Thirteen “poets’ windows” line the south wall above the sarcophagi in this hallway, each image paying tribute to a poetic sentiment expressed by American and English writers in literary works that were widely known in the early 20th century.
These stained glass artworks were made in 1926 by artisans at Western Decorative Glass in Oakland, California, having been specifically commissioned by Forest Lawn’s “Builder”, Dr. Hubert Eaton, to create a space evoking sweet memories of favorite verses, parlor songs, and childhood prayer.
Each image is accompanied by the stanza that inspired it, written out on the wall nearby, along with the name of the poet or lyricist. It is a charming peek into a long ago time, before our more mechanical and technological means of entertainment, a time more often spent in conversation with loved ones, or reading, memorizing and reciting verse, singing around a family piano or engaging in make-believe play.
The images may seem old-fashioned, even quaint to us today, reflecting as they do the lifestyle, mindset and fashion of early 20th century America. Nevertheless they still inspire nostalgia for a simpler time, as a childhood past, replete with sweet, comforting memories for the living, which was Dr. Eaton’s original intention for the mood of this space.