Standing at the entrance to Fairlawn Cemetery at 2700 N Shartel, it is difficult to imagine a cornfield where marble and granite stones now stand.
A story from The Oklahoman dated Sept. 25, 1921, describes the cornfield “filled with scrawny and withered stalks usually bending toward the north, for the wind blew continuously from the south.”
Fairlawn Cemetery Association bought that cornfield in 1892 and began the cemetery that is still there today.
The weather had been hot and dry, and, for a while, the cornstalks served as guides to the cemetery and temporary grave markers.
By 1924, Fairlawn Cemetery was well-established, and the trustees of the Fairlawn Cemetery Association were ready to improve the premises by building a mausoleum to provide aboveground resting places.
The mausoleum was finished in 1925, and the citizens of Oklahoma City were invited to Sunday open houses in October.
It is a concrete building covered inside and out with fine marble and bronze, and it has kept the promises made in newspaper advertisements of being a safe and sanitary resting place for loved ones for more than 80 years.
Simplicity is the design: Two wings are on either side of a small chapel area with aisles dividing the wall crypts, and, near the entrance, are a few special “family rooms,” some with bronze doors or gates and often personally decorated with stained-glass windows and pedestals for flowers or memorabilia.
The lower level is almost a mirror image of the main floor with “special rooms,” crypts, a chapel area and a caretaker’s room.
The chapel on the main level has a beautiful stained-glass window of an angel. The trustees spared no expense and bought an art glass window from the Tiffany Studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany for $5,000 in 1925.
The angel, which is titled “The Spirit Shall Return Unto God Who Gave It,” appears to be hovering midair among the clouds gazing upward.
She made her debut in October 1925, and, while she still shines brightly, our angel has kept a very low profile.
She bears the signature of Louis Comfort Tiffany and is constructed in the Tiffany style.
Louis Comfort Tiffany was famous for stained-glass windows that featured his handmade glass called drapery glass and brilliant colors of glass created in his glass furnaces.
Looking almost like actual cloth, drapery glass adds a three-dimensional quality to the angel’s gown.
He also liked to layer glass, which allowed more interest to the picture than just flat glass.
When you look at our angel, she is surrounded by the moon and stars, but it’s as if they are floating behind her, peeking through the clouds.
For almost 87 years, she has graced our city and brightened the solemn resting place of many of Oklahoma City’s pioneers.