Photo of the St. Boniface Cemetery in Chicago

Neighborhood News: Uptown’s Graceland Cemetery a graveyard of Chicago history

Photo of the St. Boniface Cemetery in Chicago

“An Oasis of Art, Architecture, and Landscape Design since 1860”

Graceland Cemetery website 

There are few structures in the Midwest that double as an arboretum and a final resting place for hundreds of prominent Chicagoans. Set on 121 acres of prime Chicago real estate, Uptown’s Graceland Cemetery,  4001 N. Clark Street, provides a visceral memorial to Chicago’s growth and history as a city and urban oasis. 

Designed by visionary landscape architects, including O.C. Simonds, Graceland, according to its website, both serves as a glimpse into the past and a beautiful place for the future.

For 163 years, the cemetery, located just north of Wrigley Field, has been the final resting place of the architects who designed Chicago, including Daniel Burnham, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, business executives Marshall Field, Potter and Bertha Palmer, George Pullman, and several sports stars, including, appropriately, ‘Mr. Cub’ Ernie Banks

The most beautiful grave site, according to L Stop Tours, is located in the middle of the cemetery on a small island overlooking a tranquil pond. A simple plaque on a rock commemorates the final resting spot of Daniel H. Burnham, ‘The Architect of Chicago,’ and his wife.

History of Graceland 

According to their website, Graceland Cemetery was established in 1860 by Thomas Bryan, a lawyer with a successful Chicago practice. He purchased its original 80 acres and received a perpetual charter from Illinois in 1861, and soon hired prominent landscape architect H.W.S. Cleveland to plan its park-like ambiance. 

It began with a plan, they say, by landscape architect Cleveland, which, in the 1870’s, saw the cemetery’s paths and plots uniformly sodded, and the fenced and curbed plot boundaries eliminated. William Le Baron Jenney, a renowned architect but less well known for his landscape work, contributed significantly with his design and engineering input. This helped created the Victorian park style atmosphere that soon was enhanced by Ossian Simonds. When Graceland grew to its present size, Simonds’ innovative design used native plants to create the cemetery’s pastoral landscape.

According to Wikipedia sources, many of the cemetery’s tombs are of great architectural or artistic interest, including the Getty Tomb, the Martin Ryerson Mausoleum (both designed by architect Louis Sullivan), and the Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum. They say that The industrialist Pullman was buried at night, in a lead-lined coffin within an elaborately reinforced steel-and-concrete vault, to prevent his body from being exhumed and desecrated by labor activists. 


The Cemetery Is open to all, and its architectural masterpieces, local history and beauty are “the magnets that attract people to Graceland.”   In the Spring and Summer, they are open Monday-Friday from 8am –6pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 9am–4pm. In the Fall and Winter, Cemetery Gate Hours are Monday through Friday, 8am–4pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 9am –4pm. For more information, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago