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The Pool mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetery
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Here's a somewhat more sinister-looking shot of the mausoleum.
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His name was William Wortham Pool. He and his family resided at 721 28th St., in Woodland Heights. He built a Hollywood Cemetery tomb for his wife, Alice, who died, "afer an illness of several weeks," as recorded by the Times-Dispatch obituary, on Feb. 6, 1913. She left behind her husband, daughters Mary L. Farinholt and Annie Pool, and sons Lawrence W., and Samuel Pool. William joined her in February 1922, at age 75, dying of that old person's disease, pneumonia.
W.W. Pool served as the accountant for the vast Bryan estate — the Bryans owned the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and a North Side park bears their name. Pool grew up in Manchester and became a solid citizen there, active in South Side civic affairs. He belonged for most of his life to Central Methodist Church and the Masons. He even rates a somewhat researchedWikipedia entry.
And persistent urban myth casts him as a vampire.
It could be that Pool inadenvertently aided the spread of this legend due to a life spent as a number cruncher, with this generation's sense of thrift. Spelling out his entire name would require paying the stone cutters more. The stark capitals in the words above the tomb's portal and the basic initials "W.W." could, in some suspicious minds, resemble fangs. And the absence of an explanatory epitaph invites free interpretation.
The legend appears to have gained currency from the late 1950s into the mid-1960s. Students at Richmmond Professional Institute/Virginia Comonwealth University told of strange goings-on, usually after nocturnal jaunts into the cemetary and experiencing, perhaps due to chemical sensory enhancement and adrenalin, visual apparitions. Further, the imaginations of these visitors received ample inspiration from the period's horror films and late-night television, when movies about the dreaded undead often appeared. That, and the vaguely Egyptian-style motif of the tomb, layered on mythic detail.
The single notable aspect of Pool’s death, aside from his likely displeasure of meeting mortality, is that he and Samuel R. Owens, whom the newspapers described as Pool's good friend, (once Manchester's commissioner of revenue) died on the same day, Feb. 26, 1922. The occasion of their dual demises and the ceremonies following nearly shut down Manchester. The BFFs were buried with full Masonic rites. Pool went to Hollywood Cemetery, Owens to Maury.
The Pool mausoleum is surmounted by a representation of a lamb and a boy among a flock. Until some years ago, the incised quotation from Isaiah speaking of the lion lying down with the lamb, and how a little child shall lead them, sat under the carvings, but the slab fell off.
During the mid-1980s the Cult of Pool reached something of a New Orleans fanaticism; the iron door of his crypt got jimmied open and fanciful occultists inscribed words and symbols on the outer chamber’s walls. Fetishes are still dropped by the gate with some regularity. The glass of the lunette window on the inner wall shattered (presumably from the inside). The interest reached a recent spike, too, with the publication of Walter S. Griggs Jr.'s The Collapse of Richmond's Church Hill Tunnel (History Press, 2011). Using creative supposition, the author conflated with Pool's alleged vampirism the real story of the unfortunate locomotive fireman Benjamin F. Mosby, who staggered scalded and battered out of the railroad tunnel cave-in on Oct. 2, 1925. He lingered a while before his death and, too, is buried at Hollywood.
While on occasion some accountants have been described as "bloodsuckers," whether such an actual definition can be applied to Pool remains a matter of idle conjecture. The 2011 Richmond Macabre: Nightmares from the River City (for which I wrote the introduction) also re-animated Pool in two of its 15 stories. Below is a a 1993 (pre-digital-era) article I wrote about Pool with a few more details. It does make a good story.