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Friday Harbor, Washington

Afterglow Vista

This family mausoleum is steeped in symbolism and looks more like a fantasy location than a grave. 

Formally known as the McMillin Mausoleum, Afterglow Vista is the final resting place of a mineral magnate’s family, entombed among a symbolic structure that looks like something out of a fantasy novel.   

John S. McMillin owned a successful Washington lime works during his life, as well as being a staunch Methodist and active Mason. Thus when he constructed the epic mausoleum that would house the remains of he and his family’s remains, he brought together all of his interests to conceive Afterglow Vista, the name which is actually placed on the stone arch leading to the burial site.

The so-called “mausoleum” is actually an open air rotunda with a huge limestone table in the middle. Around the table are thick stone chairs not only representing the members of the McMillin family, but actually containing their ashes and acting as headstones. This was meant to represent the family dinner table that the McMillins would rather around. There seems to be an empty space at the table and it is said that this was meant to represent the McMillin son who turned away from Methodism. The table is circled by a six Roman columns and a single broken column which is said to represent the unfinished nature of man’s life. The columns were originally going to hold a brass dome over the table, but in the end the family opted to leave the site exposed to the elements. Even the steps leading up to the monument were numbered with Masonic significance to represent the stages of life. 

This meaningful and loaded statement on death and family is open to the public, although anyone wishing to shoot a swords and sorcery epic may need a permit. 

Know Before You Go

The mausoleum is located in Roche Harbor and can be found by following a trail leading through the local cemetery. The trail leads through a green, overgrown wood, a sign reading, “Afterglow Vista” marks the entrance.If you are traveling by boat you can moor in Roche Harbor and access the site from there.

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