The Wainwright Tomb is a mausoleum located in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. Bellefontaine Cemetery is one of the most historic cemeteries in the country. Dating back to the mid-1800's, the cemetery features some of the most spectacular mausoleums and memorials built by and for some of the wealthiest and most famous Americans of the time. Beer barons, politicians, business elite . . . anybody who was anybody was buried in this cemetery. The Cemetery is an outdoor museum containing some of the finest sculptures and memorial art in the country.
The Wainwright Tomb was designed by noted Chicago school architect Louis Sullivan. It was commissioned by wealthy St. Louis brewery owner Ellis Wainwright after the death of his wife, Charlotte Dickson Wainwright. The tomb was completed in 1892, shortly after Louis Sullivan completed construction of the Wainwright Building in Downtown St. Louis, which is generally considered to be the first skyscraper in the world, and still exists as a state office building.
In 1901 Wainwright fled the United States after being indicted for bribery. He later returned and died in St. Louis in 1924, and was entombed with his wife. After his death, an endowment was established that provided for the reconstruction or renovation of the tomb in case of earthquake or vandalism. The tomb is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The tomb is a domed cubic building with walls of concrete covered in limestone on the exterior. On the northeast (front) side of the tomb is the entrance with a double-leafed bronze grill and double-doors. The sides of the tomb each have windows, also covered in bronze grills. The limestone walls are carved with floral patterns that do not repeat. The Wainwright Tomb has significance as a work of Louis Sullivan, and according to the National Register of Historic Places registration, it has been described as "the most sensitive and the most graceful of Sullivan's tombs" and as "one of Sullivan's masterpieces."
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