Artists and Architects: A Tour of Chicago's Historic Graceland Cemetery
How to get to Graceland Cemetery
Location: 4001 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60613
The cemetery is located on the north side of Chicago, just steps from the Red Line Elevated train station at Sheridan Road and several bus routes. The main cross streets are Clark Street and Irving Park Road.
History of Graceland Cemetery
This private but still functional cemetery was established in 1860 on what was considered the farthest outskirts of Chicago and what was once called Lakeview. Lakeview is no longer, as Chicago boundaries slowly crept further north over the years. This 119 acre cemetery was created in a park-like manner to house the final resting places of some of Chicago's most prominent figures, ranging from the first settlers, prominent business owners/entrepreneurs, sports figures and government figures.
Art and Architect buffs flock to see elaborate grave markers and statues that dot the landscape designed by famous architects and artists with close Chicago ties. Free maps are available via the cemetery office located near the front gate entrance.
Lorado Taft (1860-1936) Chicago Sculptor
Lorado Taft has two striking statues in Graceland Cemetery, Eternal Silence and Crusader.
Eternal Silence (1909) marks the grave of Dexter Graves (1789-1844) who was one of the first settlers in Chicago. He brought an entire community to Chicago from Ashtabula, Ohio in 1831.
Crusader marks the grave of newspaper publisher Victor Lawson, who created the Chicago Daily News and was also know as a generous philanthropist.
Taft is most famous for his façade work on many of the buildings at the World's Colombian Exposition of 1893.
Some of his most notable Chicago works include:
- Fountain of Time (1910-1922) located in the Midway Plaisance just south of Hyde Park and the Museum of Science and Industry.
- Fountain of the Great Lakes (1907-1913) located outside of the Art Institute of Chicago (Michigan Avenue at Adams Streets).
Do you enjoy architectural tours?
McKim, Mead & White: New York Based Architects
McKim, Mead and White are best known for their many famous New York designs. Their primary Chicago connection is from the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, in which they designed the Agricultural Building. They are best known for using the beaux-arts style of design, which incorporates classic Greek and Roman elements.
The "Greek Temple" is the final resting place of Potter (1826-1902) and Bertha (1849-1918) Palmer. Potter was a real estate magnate, merchandiser and entrepreneur. Perhaps the best known example of this is the famous Palmer House Hotel, which is still operational. The Palmers were also great philanthropists.
The Kimball Tomb is home to William Kimball (1828-1904), wholesaler of pianos and organs.
Both plots are done in a classic Greek style with columns and ornamentation.
Other famous works include:
- Penn Station in NYC
- Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn
- Columbia University, NYC
- Washington Arch located in Washington Park, NYC
Richard E. Schmidt (1865-1958)-Architect
Richard E. Schmidt was a contemporary of both Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright and belonged to the Prairie School of architectural design. His design of Peter Schoenhofen's tomb reflects an eclectic hybrid design using Egyptian and Victorian influences.
Peter Schoenhofen (1827-1893) was a wealthy brewer and entrepreneur. The tomb features an Egyptian pyramid, flanked by a sphinx and an angel that is distinctly Victorian instead of Egyptian. It is a remarkable, eye-catching piece of art.
Schmidt's other notable Chicago designs include:
- The Schoenhofen Brewery Building
- Humboldt Park Boathouse
- Cook County Hospital Administration Building
- Montgomery Ward Company Complex Buildings
Louis Sullivan (1856-1924): Architect
Perhaps the best known Chicago architect and father of the Prairie school of architecture, Louis Sullivan was mentor to many young architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright. He is considered the "father" of the modern skyscraper, utilizing the cheap and plentiful steel that became available at the advent of the 19th century, to design buildings that were taller, sleeker and overall lighter load than previous buildings which required a larger footprint to be able to carry the load of the structure.
The Getty Tomb, was commissioned by Henry Harrison Getty for his wife, Carrie Eliza. Henry Harrison was a prominent lumber merchant. You can clearly see the prairie school design elements in the ornamentation of the tomb. As a side note, several tombs at Graceland have been designed by Louis Sullivan and Sullivan himself is also buried there.
Some of Sullivan's most famous Chicago works:
- Carson Pirie Scott Building
- Auditorium Theatre Building (built pre-steel structure )
Solon Beman (1853-1914): Architect and Planner
Solon Beman is best known for his work planning an entire community for railroad magnate, George Pullman, which is located on the far south/southeast side of Chicago. The neighborhood and homes still stand, and most have been restored. The community was used for workers of the Pullman factory, which was also located on the site. George Pullman was the inventor of the sleeper car and was known to work his employees rather raggedly.
Pullman Tomb- Designed by Beman is George Pullman's tomb (1831-1897). Beman was influenced by the Queen Anne and Romanesque styles of the time. The tomb features a giant Corinthian column. Underneath, the casket is buried in a concrete block and on top of that are railroad tracks. Pullman was so disliked for his tyrant behavior that the family was worried his tomb was going to be tampered with, thus the extra security measures.
Spend an Entire Day Browsing
This cemetery is huge and home to other notables in Chicago (and beyond) history. I hope you enjoyed the small sampling of what I consider the "standouts". If you love history, art or architecture, I highly recommend visiting this magnificent and historical cemetery.
© 2014 Lisa Roppolo