In the heart of Toowong Cemetery, a grand and enigmatic mausoleum stands, occasionally referred to as the “Temple of Peace,” defying the Australian tradition of modest gravesites.
It is a truly imposing sight, characterised by a towering structure adorned with a concrete urn and its walls adorned with stained glass. The heritage-listed memorial, located at the corner of Frederick Street and Mt Coot-tha Road was designed and built by Richard Paul Carl Ramo.
Upon initial inspection, the Temple of Peace appears to be a heartfelt homage to a father’s departed sons and a beloved pet. Welcoming visitors is a lintel bearing the same title, along with marble plaques inscribed with the names Fred, Gordon, Victor, Henry, and “I.”
Inside the chamber, one encounters marble tablets, whilst the ceiling bears the names and places of death of two of Richard Ramo’s sons. A statue of a little dog guards the entry, signifying a painful loss brought on by deliberate poisoning, and stained glass panels at the back honour Victor’s passing.
Recent investigations, however, have uncovered a complicated history for this extraordinary mausoleum. Although Richard Ramo did not leave any writings behind, it is now thought that many claims made about the monument are either untrue or misleading.
The absence of their real names from the tomb suggests that Ramo may have made up the existence of three of his alleged sons who died in World War I. He did have two other sons, Percy and Cecil. The latter enlisted whilst the former did not; however, neither died during the War.
Intriguingly, there are hints of a connection between Ramo and the Industrial Workers of the World and the Rationalist Society, suggested by references to the Red Flag and other inscriptions.
On December 6, 1924, the Temple of Peace was dedicated in a ceremony attended by thousands, primarily from socialist and pacifist communities. A casket said to contain the remains of Ramo’s “adopted son” Fred, who had tragically taken his own life, was placed inside the mausoleum. The dedication was presided over by the president of the Rationalist Association.
The question of how Ramo, who was not considered wealthy, financed this grand monument remains a puzzle. Ramo’s story concluded with his death in 1951, and his ashes were interred alongside the ”alleged” sons he had honoured.