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Tallahassee, Florida

The Phillips Mausoleum

This historic crypt was said to have been designed and built by the very person who is buried inside of it. 

The historic Oakland Cemetery is located near the corner of Brevard and North Bronough streets. Perhaps its most storied structure is a strange onion-domed mausoleum. 

This crypt was built in the early 20th century, by and for an eccentric Tallahassee architect named Calvin C. Phillips, who died in 1919. Not much more than that is certain.

Phillips had designed structures for the 1877 Paris Expo and the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and took special care to design his last resting place to his exact specifications, applying a bizarre mix of Roman, Doric, Greek, and Indian influences to the 20-foot-high construction. “Phillips” is etched into the marble above the doorway. It is said that he built it with his own hands, and that it soon became an obsession.

Creepy tales concerning the relationship between the structure and its maker abound. Some say that Phillips spent hours a day - for years - sitting inside the crypt. Others say he hired a master carpenter to make a cherry-wood casket. Once the casket had been delivered, he locked himself inside the mausoleum, climbed inside the coffin, and promptly died. Many visitors to the cemetery have said that they’ve seen Phillips’ ghost sitting on top of the structure or wandering around the cemetery, perhaps restless over the memory of the wife and two daughters he left behind in New York when he relocated to Tallahassee. 

In 2000, vandals broke into the crypt and stole Phillips’ skull. The case remains unsolved, another mystery among many. 

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