Artist: Louis Comfort Tiffany
Created: 1930s, restored 2004
Permanently installed outside the Westover Branch Library. Watch a short video of the finial being installed.
What’s a finial? In architecture, it’s an ornament (carved in stone or wood, or cast in plaster) that is placed at the top of an arch. Ours was originally part of the old Abbey Mausoleum in Arlington.
About Abbey Mausoleum
Built on a hillside overlooking Arlington Cemetery and the Potomac River in 1924, the Abbey Mausoleum was once a grand final resting-place for Washington, DC’s elite. The mausoleum, built by the United States Mausoleum Company from 1924 to 1926, was an impressive Romanesque style structure that neighbored Arlington National Cemetery and in 1942 was included within the grounds of Henderson Hall, the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters.
With its granite exterior, marble interior, and stained glass windows, the building was said to have resembled a cathedral. With the bankruptcy of the managing Abbey Mausoleum Corporation in the 1950s, the building fell victim to vandalism and neglect.
In 2000, the U.S. Navy gained ownership of the site, which it wished to redevelop. Based upon the mausoleum’s poor condition, the Navy decided to tear it down. They then assumed the enormous task of contacting the families of those interred at the mausoleum in order to relocate remains, a process which took several years. Arlington County was given the opportunity to salvage architectural features from the historic building, including the Tiffany windows.