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Donnellan family crypt


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This crypt is located under the Franklin Street bridge over the Buffalo Bayou. It was initially the burial site of the early 19th century settlers, the Donnellan family, until their remains were moved to another location. Last I heard, this was an abandoned site, but I've been warned that it may be owned by someone; is it, though?

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I'm not sure who it would be owned by, other than maybe the city. It's rather difficult to get to, canoe and waders are in order. I used to go to a club on Franklin (Cabaret Voltaire/Scream) that had an outside area that was basically under the Franklin bridge and the crypt is just a few feet away. At the time, I had no idea it was there.

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I find it very unlikely that this is the Donnellan crypt. If it ever existed at this location, it most likely was destroyed when the first bridge was built in 1885. Coincidentally, the brickwork of this structure looks to date from that period.

The first reason that I doubt this to be the Donnellan vault is it's size. If this structure were built in 1849, it would dwarf most residences of the period. Furthermore, the thickness of the walls (4 bricks=30+ inches) is overkill, to say the least, for a one story burial vault. Based on the thickness, this was most likely the foundation for a building or the bridge.

Secondly, if the Donnellans had built such a massive vault to bury their family wouldn't they also have their name on the structure? Assuming that this is the only entrance, shouldn't it be above the door? If you're going to spend the kind of money that this would have cost in 1849, you'd want people to know who it belonged to! If it was not the only entrance then the structure was originally even larger that previously thought, making it even more oversized for the period.

Finally, why put the family vault down near the bayou? Before the construction of Addicks and Barker dams in the 1940's, the bayou flooded even more drastically than it does today. It would seem odd that they would want their loved ones deluged every time it flooded. Also, why have the entrance in such an inconvenient location? The street level has not changed drastically over the last 158 years, nor has the general geography of the bayou. I can only imagine pallbearers scampering down the embankment with a casket and then trying to squeeze it through that tiny door.

Just my thoughts.

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