Musings of a Museum Fanatic: Graceland Cemetery

10.16.2017

Graceland Cemetery


When the weather turns cold and we hit October 1 our thoughts turn to more creepy and ghoulish thoughts. We start to think about what our Halloween costumes will be and pursue frightening past times such as wandering through the local cemetery. On the north side of Chicago, just north of Wrigley Field, you'll find Graceland Cemetery the perfect spot for the fright seekers, art and architecture lovers and everyone in your party.



Graceland Cemetery was created in 1860 by the prominent landscape architect H.W.S. Cleveland. While today it's well within the city of Chicago but at the time the cemetery it's hometown of Lake View were two miles outside the city! The style of the cemetery was much influenced by the Victorian style of rolling landscapes and park feel that was made popular by Queen Victoria in England at the time.




The Eternal Silence is probably one of Graceland's most well known pieces. Created in 1909 by American sculpture Lorado Taft one must stop by to pay their respects when visiting. It was created to honor Dexter Graves, an early pioneer who led 15 families from Ohio to Chicago in 1831. It's been said that if you look into his eyes that you will see your own death. Would you be brave enough to take that challenge??



In addition to so many beautiful gravestones you'll see there are a number of very prominent, important and infamous Chicago residents that now call Graceland home. Among them are the Pinkertons who are known for such infamous exploits as breaking up strikes that led to multiple deaths.





The Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum is one of the more eye catching mausoleums that you'll find. This work of art was created for Peter Schoenhofen, the owner Shoenhofen Brewing Company that was located in the Pilsen neighborhood.




While back in the day the cemetery was out in the "middle of nowhere" now being right in the heart of the north side you encounter all the sights and sounds of the city as you walk up to the cemetery. When you step about 50 feet into the property the outside world just melts away and you're taken aback at the change in atmosphere. Even looking back at the photographs now there is this serene, hushed feel. Almost spooky like anyone from times past can come walking out from under the willow trees.








While some monuments are made by great artists that we still remember there are so many other works of art with names that have been long forgotten. Since there were so many mausoleums where you couldn't see inside we were left to enjoy the beautiful exteriors. There were so many that had breathtaking and intricate doors.






Graceland's most important citizen (at least in my mind!) is Daniel Burnham. Located on the small island in the middle of the cemetery you'll find this world renowned architect. I crossed the bridge excited to see what gorgeous monument adorned his grave. It was quite a surprise to find such a simple tribute. Although I guess having your own island is pretty baller!







I loved these mausoleums that were literally built into the earth of the cemetery with the green just wrapping itself around them.




Whether you're looking for a spooky time, interested in the history of Chicago or just want to marvel at the beauty Graceland Cemetery has it all.


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