The McMillin Mausoleum in Roche Harbor is one of the weirder things to do on San Juan Island. Of course we had to go there when Sandy and Eric visited. The McMillin Mausoleum is such an odd place that is featured in Weird Washington, USA Today, and Atlas Obscura.
John McMillin started the Lime Kilns of Roche Harbor in the late 1886, building a concrete manufacturing empire that continued into the 1930’s. John was an astute businessman, a devout Methodist, and a high order Mason. In death, he wanted his family to surround him as they had in life.
The McMillin Mausoleum is a very symbolic structure. It is set on the top of a hill, leading to the name “Afterglow Vista.” The three flights of steps up to the structure represent the three states of life. The number of steps corresponds to various stages in the Freemason hierarchy. There is a raised platform with pillars supporting a domed roof. One of the pillars is broken to symbolize the way death breaks the column of any man’s life.
Limestone chairs surround a limestone table on the platform. Each chair has the name of the person interred in the base of the chair. The family’s remains united in death as they are in heaven. You can almost imagine the family gathering around the table for a final dinner in the late afternoon twilight.
Getting to the McMillin Mausoleum is almost as strange as the mausoleum itself. You park beside the airport and walk through an overgrown grove of trees. Small family burial plots are scattered through the woods, although it does not appear to be a cemetery. Each plot has a fence around it. About a mile in you come to the mausoleum.
The McMillin Mausoleum is an interesting, although odd, place to visit. It isn’t in our “top 10” places to see on the island, but if you have plenty of time and an adventurous spirit, it is worth visiting.