The Afterglow Vista
The McMillin Memorial Mausoleum
At first glance, the Afterglow Vista may look like something out of a fantasy novel; the Roman arches that lead to an open rotunda, a stone table surrounded by six limestone chairs, and the stairs leading up to the structure all resonate with an almost ethereal quality. In reality, it is a mausoleum dedicated to the McMillin family, all of which is ingrained with deep symbolism surrounded by both Mr. John S. McMillin’s deep Methodist faith and involvement with the Freemasons.
John S. McMillin himself was a lime worker and eventual owner of the Tacoma Lime Company. The San Juan islands were known to be a primary exporter of the mineral and in 1886 McMillin purchased the controlling interests in the lime deposits and would go on to become a leader in the industry. McMillin was well known by the local community, going as far as establishing the Hotel de Haro in Roche Harbor and then a company town that surrounded the lime factory. He stimulated almost every aspect of the local economy, supporting nearly 800 of his employees that were living there. This was a common practice for most major industries during the late 19th century as public transportation was limited for employees to reach their workplace. It was much more efficient to have them living within their own communities that allowed them to walk to work. The workers even had their own currency that could be used at the general store to purchase everyday items; these vouchers were used by the employees leading into the 1950s.
Just as John McMillin was so thorough and prepared with his business practices in this life, attending to every detail for his workers; so was he also ready for the afterlife, preparing every detail for the final resting place of himself and his family. Every part of the Afterglow Vista is intentionally constructed. From the very beginning, the deep meaning that McMillin was hoping to portray is evident, starting with the stairs leading up to the structure. The stairs are separated by three sections: the first flight contains three steps, which represent the three ages of man. The second flight has five steps, believed to represent the five senses. The last flight contains seven steps, which were supposedly meant to be the seven liberal arts and sciences. When you reach the top, the first thing you will witness is the tholos constructed from seven Roman columns, one of them purposefully being destroyed. This is meant to represent the concept of the unfinished work that a man is incapable of completing in his lifetime, that death is inevitable and will not allow us to accomplish all of our goals. Within the rotunda is a stone table surrounded by six chairs, each one containing the cremated remains of the McMillin family. Although there is an empty space that is believed to represent one of McMillin's sons who walked away from Methodist dogma; forever being disowned and unable to rest eternally among his family.