Crowley Mausoleum – Decatur, Georgia - Atlas Obscura

Crowley Mausoleum

Developers built a Walmart around one family's plot and constructed a mausoleum in the parking lot. 


For over a century, the Crowley family owned the Decatur, Georgia plot that is now home to the Memorial Drive Walmart. But as modernity and low, low prices ate away at their land, they never gave up on the family plot now inhabiting a strange mausoleum in the back of the parking lot, still holding the bodies in their original spots, now 12 feet off the ground.

In the 1820s James M. Crowley bought up 500 acres in what is now Decatur, Georgia to create a familial estate. He passed away only a few years after settling the land, and his holdings began being passed down family lines. James was buried atop a hill on the property, starting a family cemetery that would go on to hold generations of Crowleys and their relatives.

As time passed, the Crowley estate was slowly parceled off with the remaining portion remaining in the possession of a family relation or descendant of James Crowley. Finally in the 1960s a huge portion of the land was sold to make way for the new Avondale Mall. The only problem was that this included the hilltop family plot. However the builders agreed to leave the graves untouched and the mall construction got underway. As the ground was flattened to a straight grade to make room for a parking lot, the construction ended up shaving down around 12 feet of land, leaving the bodies at the top of the hill high and dry. However, good as their word, the developers constructed the Crowley Mausoleum which surrounded the burial site, essentially leaving the bodies interred on the roof. The building holds 13 graves on its flagstone-covered roof. Eleven of them are buried in unmarked stone box graves and two of them have headstones. From the ground, the mausoleum shows little indication of its true nature.

The Avondale Mall is now long since defunct, replaced by a sprawling Walmart, but the unassuming stone building hidden away at the back of the parking lot still stands, proving the often ironically surprising immobility of the dead. The roof is not accessible and though you can walk up to the structure from behind an adjoining auto parts store, the entrance to the mausoleum is chained and padlocked.

Know Before You Go

Enter the Walmart parking lot from Memorial Drive; the mausoleum will be immediately to the right.

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