Woodlawn Memorial Park was the 12th cemetery to be established in the Town of Lawndale, which is now named Colma. The Masonic Cemetery was established in 1854 in San Francisco and Woodlawn was established in 1904 as the Masonic Cemetery in Colma after San Francisco passed an ordinance for all cemeteries to remove their bodies and monuments. Today, Woodlawn Memorial Park is a non-denominational cemetery serving the San Francisco Bay area.
The site of Woodlawn Memorial Park was once part of the route of the Seven Mile House stagecoach from San Francisco to San Jose. Southern Pacific Railroad was right across the street. There was a stop here for funeral mourners to visit their loved ones. The streetcars ran right along the center of El Camino Real, which brought funerals and mourners.
Woodlawn’s signature castle took 15 years to construct. The massive stone arches are constructed with sold blue granite from the quarries in Raymond, California, in the Sierra Nevada. Originally, there was only one arch, and a second was added in the 1930s along with additional offices and chapels.
Visitors to the castle pass from one chamber to another, up and down a grand staircase or through archways draped with tapestries and carpeted corridors. Throughout are stained-glass ceilings murals nearly ten feet in diameter, antique Persian rugs and about 300 pieces of artwork, including bronze and Italian marble sculptures.
The witness cremation chapel is made from the same quality granite and designed by William Merchant and Bernard Maybeck who designed the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. This chapel is embellished with rich tapestries and a pipe organ.
The Pillars of Peace on top of the hill in the Rose Garden facing east came from the portico of a world-renowned San Francisco mansion. It was re-erected at Woodlawn Memorial Park as a symbol of the historical greatness of San Francisco and a testimony to the spirit and determination of the pioneers whose efforts made San Francisco a great city.