Graceland Cemetery

Graceland Cemetery: Main Gate - Clarke Street: North

Gates surround the entrance to this, the oldest and perhaps most famous of cemeteries in Chicago. To one side is the office, where one can find all the information they may desire regarding this place, while paths lead through this sprawling extravaganza. There are essentially three sections to this graveyard. The Eastside, Westside, and the Lakeside.

History

Graceland Cemetery is one of Chicago's best-known and most historic cemeteries. It was established in 1860, originally outside city limits, but engulfed as the city grew northward. The original City Cemetery was on the lake front, and was considered a health hazard due to overcrowding and water-borne diseases. The bodies were moved to nearby Graceland in the town of Lake View, with the old city cemetery becoming what is now Lincoln Park.

Graceland is on the north side of Chicago, with its main entrance at the corner of Clark and Irving Park roads, extending north and east from that point. Graceland's office is just inside the main gate at the southwest corner. Within, free maps and pamphlets are available, as well as a $7 book published by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 'A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery'.

Eastside

Graceland Cemetery: Eastside Crusader - Clarke Street: North

Tall, proud, noble. This mighty warrior looks out around him, shield at guard, sword in hand, ready to battle any evil that may come it's way. He stands guard forever against the night in this small clearing of well manicured grass, flowers and plants of every color and variety ringing around, trees shading in the background as he stands apart from the other dead, offering his vigilance to all who wish it.

Upon the base of "Crusader" are written the words: Above all things Truth Beareth away the Victory

Only the statue of this Medieval Crusader and these words mark the final resting place of Victor Lawson.

Graceland Cemetery: Eastside Kroeschell - Clarke Street: North

Just within sight of the vigilant Crusader rests a slightly secluded area, a small stone wall snaking through the myriad graves, winding its way around the dead, a small sheltering tomb to one side, but the thing that draws the attention is the apparent vandalism. The Kroeschal monument rises up in two columns, though the right half has been sheared away roughly, even the bronze plaque has been shattered in perfect alignment to the crude apparent vandalism. If one were to report this desecration of a grave to the guards, however, as often is done, they would be informed that the Crusader has not failed his vigilance. The broken monument is a feature of the symbolism of the marker itself, a part of the original design, symbolizing a life that has been broken.

Graceland Cemetery: Eastside Pullman - Clarke Street: North

Two benches of weathered marble flank on either side the single towering Corinthian column, towering up above, nearly as high as the surrounding trees now grown ancient around the grave of George Pullman, inventor of the Pullman Sleeping Car company.

The body rests beneath the slab that holds up the monument to this man, taking up, no doubt the entire space. When Pullman died, his coffin was wrapped in tarpaper and asphalt enclosed in a room sized block of concrete reinforced by railroad ties. Ambrose Bierce is quoted as having said at the time, "It is clear the family in their bereavement was making sure the sonofabitch wasn't going to get up and come back." In recent years some have speculated as to whether that statement was more than just a joke, and whispered questions stray about asking if there is not, perhaps, a hundred plus year old Vampire screaming inside that concrete prison for all eternity.

Graceland Cemetery: Eastside Chapel - Clarke Street: North

Exterior: The paths join with a hard macadam road here, leading on toward the Graceland Chapel. Constructed in 1888 by the firm of Holabird and Roche, the chapel is nothing fantastic or spectacular, yet it is surrounded by sense of serene quite. A simple tri-color dark brick building it sits amidst the trees with a black slate arched roof, windows allowing in the light to fill the presence of the Almighty within its hallowed hall. The windows are not stained glass, but modern looking panes of clear glass, showing no pretense. Only the peace and serenity even truly marking it as a house of God.

Interior: Simplicity has been used to add ornamentation in the most perfect blend to this chapel. Natural woods are everywhere, polished with loving care and maintained in the most robust of condition. The dark wood is lightened with sprays of cut flowers everywhere, rich, white light fixtures adding a heavenly glow to the space. The windows are simple, normal square windows of modern design, allowing light to filter in and wash the space during the daylight hours.

Simple pews form two lines for the majority of the space, an ample aisle down the middle, with smaller aisles on either side. The front is separated by a simple wooden railing with padded kneelers at the base of it, spindles of rolling curves abounding, beyond which rests the altar, drapped in a shimmering veil of white, the rainbow spray of wildflowers adding a delicate touch of nature. Simplicity at its finest, accented by the wild ornamentation of nature. A truly lovely little spot.

Graceland Cemetery: Eastside Graves - Clarke Street: North

Death does indeed walk amongst us here in this part of the cemetery. The statues true name is "Eternal Silence", though the local moniker of "The Statue of Death" seems far more appropriate. Voluminous robes billow about the bronze work, the weather having stripped it of its black coloring, turning it to a pale greenish hue from the bitting elements, yet those elements have yet to touch the dark confines of the hood of this figure, the black interior swallowing all light still. The figure's arm raises to its mouth, wherever it may be within that darkness, or is it actually beckoning? Calling you forth into that silence that has no end.

Pushing back further towards the east the lawns are cut into rows, separated by hedges, these winding back to several larger mausoleums in the distance. These appear to be ancient structures, worn and weathered, and also appear to be rarely visited.

Crypt - Graceland Cemetery: Eastside Graves - Clarke Street: North

Oftentimes when a person with either overt natural aptitude or training in the art of raising zombies is buried, they rise as a ghoul after death, bringing along many of their neighbors with them. One way to prevent this is to render the corpse into a state that cannot rise due to cremation, or merely to not actually bury the departed.

This crypt holds not a single family like many crypts do, but instead various animators and necromancers who either decided to not opt for cremation, or to be cremated but still go for the safe bet. Although made of the traditional stone, the structure of the crypt has modern locks in mind to prevent any accidental risings from escaping — complex puzzle trip-switches that would really take sentient thought to work out. Not only are mundane means in practice, but also many of the individual cells are lined with silver to attempt some arcane protection as well.

Stone Slab Coffin: A box of grey marble stone, six feet long and two feet wide. Only slightly decorated on the outside, it bears the edges of a literal silver lining as well as a complex puzzle-lock made more to keep the resident corpse in instead of grave-robbers out.

Graceland Cemetery: Westside Pinkerton - Clarke Street: North

The original gumshoe, Allan Pinkerton was a very influental man in life, and even in death he managed to keep his family, friends, and trusted employees close to him. A large, slightly raised area marks off the Pinkerton plot, an obolisk in the center holding a plaque to mark the spot clearly as dozes of graves scatter about.

Graceland Cemetery: Lake Willomere Goodman - Clarke Street: North

Rolling hills lead you toward the shore of Lake Willomere, a sprawling green-blue lake in the middle of the cemetary. One such hill bears the tomb of William Goodman. A concrete platform edges along the lakeside just above the water level, permiting access to the front door of the tomb. The ground slopes upward away from the lake, and, at the rear of the mausoleum, is level with its roof where one can actually stand upon the structure,, protected by a granite railing on the other three sides. In the center of this railing is a marble panel featuring relief carvings in the classical style. To either side are the words from the Song of Solomon: Until the Day Breaks and Shadows Flee Away

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