In his legal career, the case of the 594-crypt mausoleum must stand out for lawyer Frank B. Tavenner. He has been trying to sell it for more than 20 years, but every time he gets close -- as he did last week -- the deal falls through.
The property in question is the 62-year-old Abbey Mausoleum in Arlington County, with 245 occupied crypts and 60 urns with cremated remains.
"I'm concerned about it because nothing has happened and all I get are phone calls from people doing research," said Tavenner last week. "They want to get inside to take pictures or ask me questions about the history or want to have me to do the research."
Tavenner, an Annandale attorney who is the mausoleum's court-appointed receiver, estimated it would cost about $1.4 million to buy the mausoleum, on a half-acre lot between Arlington National Cemetery and the Marine Corps' Henderson Hall facility. The price would include the cost of moving the remains from the crypts and urns and re-interring them elsewhere, plus reimbursement for people who bought still-unused spaces at the mausoleum.
Tavenner entered the case when he represented crypt buyers in a suit against the corporation that had run the mausoleum. He was subsequently appointed receiver by the Arlington Circuit Court.
A chancery commissioner for that court rejected last week the latest bid, one from an undisclosed person who made an offer that was also undisclosed. The reason given for the rejection was an insufficient down payment offer, Tavenner said.
Over the years, Tavenner has tried to interest Arlington National Cemetery officials, the Marines, a privately owned cemetery and, two years ago, Arlington County. He suggested that the county consider converting the mausoleum, with its white Italian marble interior and stained-glass windows, into a museum or art gallery.
The county said no thanks, citing the lack of public access because the mausoleum is surrounded by federal property.
"I think I'll offer it to the Navy again," he said, "though there's probably not a chance in the world with Gramm-Rudman being what it is."