The Mausoleum That Jack Built

In April I wrote about sites local to me in my post Frank Travels the Neighborhood. One of those places is a favorite of mine, Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery. When my mom was visiting in May, we visited Oakland (a good place to get outside while “socially distancing” during the pandemic). I took a picture of this Mausoleum because I didn’t recall seeing it before, and thought it was very interesting:

Mausoleum of Jasper Newton Smith

Turns out, the fellow sitting up on top is Jasper Newton Smith, also known in Atlanta circles as “Uncle Jack.”

He died in 1918, but designed his mausoleum and statue before that, visiting it often, and at least one time climbing up to rip off a vine that had grown around his neck. (He hated wearing neckties.) He purchased his coffin twelve years before he died, and purchased his lot at Oakland thirteen years before that. According to his obituary, days before he died, he told friends he had a premonition he would die at 9:00. He was off by 15 minutes.

He got rich selling bricks rebuilding Atlanta after the Civil War, with a brickyard that was at 14th and Peachtree, then sold it to become a real estate investor.

He ended up building a large building downtown called “The House that Jack Built” on the corner of Forsyth and Peachtree. In 1905, an Atlanta Constitution article wrote of him, “As a miller, a painter, blacksmith, a butcher, a distiller of the ardent, a carriage builder, hotel and boarding housekeeper and a brick maker, he is a success. As a financier and real estate dealer, he ‘leads the band’. Especially when it comes to ‘the House that Jack Built’ ‘The Bachelors Domain’…”

A “jack of many trades,’ he was listed in the 1910 Census as simply a “Capitalist.”

In 1909, he leased the building for 99 years, in one of Atlanta’s earliest known long term leases. But in his lease, he stated that his inscribed stone blocks should remain on the building. While the building is no longer there, two of the stone blocks that flanked the original entrance of his building still remain, just outside of the Peachtree Center MARTA Station where the building once stood.

Obituary from the Knoxville Sentinel, August 17, 1918

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