Artists and Architects: A Tour of Chicago's Historic Graceland Cemetery

Updated on January 31, 2019
LisaRoppolo profile image

Lisa is a writer with a terrible case of wanderlust! She loves to photograph interesting places and provide tips to the casual vacationer.

"Eternal Silence" by Lorado Taft
"Eternal Silence" by Lorado Taft | Source

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.

Graceland Cemetery

4001 N. Clark Street, Chicago:
Graceland Cemetery, 4001 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60613, USA

get directions

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).

"Crusader" by Lorado Taft
"Crusader" by Lorado Taft | Source

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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

Palmer Tomb-McKim, Mead & White
Palmer Tomb-McKim, Mead & White | Source
Potter Tomb-a fuller view
Potter Tomb-a fuller view | Source
William Kimball tomb-McKim, Mead & white
William Kimball tomb-McKim, Mead & white | Source

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

Peter Schoenhofen Tomb
Peter Schoenhofen Tomb | Source
Schoenhofen Angel close-up
Schoenhofen Angel close-up | Source
Close up of the Schoenhofen tomb door which shows sylized Egyptian lotus and serpent door handle.
Close up of the Schoenhofen tomb door which shows sylized Egyptian lotus and serpent door handle. | Source

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 )

Getty Tomb-Louis Sullivan
Getty Tomb-Louis Sullivan | Source
Getty Tomb-close up
Getty Tomb-close up | Source
Ornamentation on the Getty Tomb
Ornamentation on the Getty Tomb | Source

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.

Pullman tomb
Pullman tomb | Source

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


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    • LisaRoppolo profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Roppolo 

      5 years ago from Joliet, IL

      Thanks! I agree. Some people think it is morbid to visit cemeteries, but there are great masonry tombs and statues to see. Works of art!

    • hardscape profile image


      5 years ago from 08247

      Fascinating. I've never been to Chicago, but appreciate this information about another place to visit when I go. I agree with the other comments that your visuals are outstanding, especially the details in close ups. Thanks for inspiring me. Cemeteries are full of masonry structures.

    • LisaRoppolo profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Roppolo 

      5 years ago from Joliet, IL

      Thank you Lisa Keating! There are a ton of things to do in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, so you need to come back for another visit! :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I visited Chicago for the first time last spring. I wish I had know about this place. Guess I'll have to go again. Congrats on HOTD. Very informative.

    • LisaRoppolo profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Roppolo 

      5 years ago from Joliet, IL


    • Barack James profile image

      Barack James 

      5 years ago from Green City in the Sun


    • LisaRoppolo profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Roppolo 

      5 years ago from Joliet, IL

      Thanks! :)

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      5 years ago from Chicago Area

      Amazing photos of this Chicago landmark! We have so many awesome sites in the area. Thanks for sharing the Chicago love and congrats on Hub of the Day!

    • LisaRoppolo profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Roppolo 

      5 years ago from Joliet, IL

      Thank you! There are so many more statues and notables to explore in that cemetery, it seems unfair that I singled these out, so I encourage anyone traveling to the Chicago area to spend the day exploring the site.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Congratulations on HOTD! This is so interesting and informative and I never knew about this cemetery until reading this hub. The statues are wonderful and the tombs are magnificent and well decorated. Your photos of everything are gorgeous. Thanks for the virtual 'tour' of the statues and architecture of this prestigious cemetery. Voted up+


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