Filed Under Architecture

Lake View Cemetery

One afternoon in the summer of 1869 Liberty Holden was riding down Euclid Avenue when he noticed a beautiful forested green space with rolling hills. Holden suggested the spot to the Lake View Cemetery Association as the perfect place for the cemetery they were planning. The Association bought the 211-acre spot and transformed it into the first rural cemetery in Cleveland.

The rural cemetery movement in the United States began on the East Coast during the early nineteenth century. Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts (established in 1831), Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1836), and Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York (1838) are considered the nation’s first three rural cemeteries, and they laid the pattern that many other American cities would follow in establishing their own rural cemeteries.

Before the rural cemetery movement, most urban burial places were located in churchyards. The move from burial places in the city to a rural setting happened for a multitude of reasons. The first reason was many burial grounds in the city occupied prime locations eyed for commercial development. The second issue that led to the foundation of rural cemeteries was that the capacities of these burial grounds were reaching their limits. Yellow fever in New York led to high mortality rates. Mass graves, bodies being kept in church cellars, and the generally poor condition brought up concerns about respect for the dead. The condition of the burial grounds was also threatening to compromise public health. In particular the gas fumes from dead bodies were noxious. The final reason for the establishment of rural cemeteries was a change in view of nature. Nature came to be seen as beneficial for human health. Those who planned the first rural cemeteries responded by taking the natural landscape into consideration in their designs.

The rural cemetery movement was also called the garden cemetery movement because rural cemeteries, with their emphasis on cultivated nature, doubled as parklands. Rural cemetery planners drew inspiration from English gardens. Mount Auburn was the brainchild of Dr. Jacob Bigelow, a medical doctor and botanist. With the support of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, the cemetery included a botanical garden. The cemetery, along with providing a place for burials, was a green space for the city of Boston and a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Rules were implemented and updated in order to manage the number of visitors in respect of those buried and their families. The rural cemetery movement therefore helped with the creation of separate city parks.

Lake View Cemetery mirrored these predecessors in its creation. Jeptha H. Wade, Joseph Perkins, and Henry Bolton Payne were the first group to discuss the creation of a rural cemetery in Cleveland. Through their efforts, the Lake View Cemetery Association was organized on July 28, 1869. The Association looked for picturesque locations for the cemetery and acquired 211 acres (now 285 acres) east of Cleveland between Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road. The Association brought in Adolph Strauch, a well-known gardener, landscaper, and the superintendent of Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. Spring Grove was another well-known early rural cemetery designed by John Notman, who had previously designed Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery. Lake View had hills and valleys with peaks high enough to look out over Lake Erie and still see the city. Parts of the land were densely forested. A few streams were located on the property that were planned for use in creating manmade lakes. Strauch laid out the walking paths and the lot boundaries before filling in where the trees and plants should be placed. His method involved accentuating the natural features of the landscape.

Not only did Lake View mirror Mount Auburn, Laurel Hill, and Green-Wood in its conception but also in its later regulation of visitors. These regulations reflected one of the intended aspirations for rural cemeteries besides merely housing the dead. The cemetery served as a place of moral education as well as a beautiful landscape with grand monuments, including memorials to President James A. Garfield, John D. Rockefeller, and Jeptha Wade. If the solemnity of its statuary failed to inspire, cemetery rules instructed visitors on how to act while on the grounds and guide toward solemn remembrance. An 1882 column titled “Lake View Cemetery: Not a Picnic Resort” brought complaints made by lot owners and family of the buried to the public's attention. Its author described the fanfare associated with visiting President Garfield’s memorial but emphasized the issue of strangers setting up picnics on grave monuments and the crowds trampling the grounds. There was a call for regulation on Sundays that led to implementation of ticketing for admittance to follow the same action taken at Green-Wood and Spring Grove cemeteries.

Once among the only substantial cultivated green spaces in reach of Clevelanders, Lake View Cemetery became less novel by the turn of the twentieth century, when newly opened city parks began to lure recreation-seekers away. Nevertheless, Lake View continued to attract visitors with its variety of plants, trees, and flowers. In the 1940s Dr. William Weir cultivated more than 170 varieties of daffodils and donated a large collection of bulbs to Lake View. The bulbs were planted in a three-acre portion of the cemetery with more being added each year. With more than one hundred thousand bulbs, Daffodil Hill has become a perennial attraction enticing visitors back to Lake View Cemetery yearly to see them in bloom.

Audio

Lake View and Little Italy Stan Jaffe on the historic connection between Little Italy and Lake View Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Spending the Night Photographer Karen Novak on visiting Lake View Cemetery Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Peaceful Retreat Karen Novak describes the park-like features of the cemetery Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Every Headstone is a Story Loree Resnick of Suburban Temple discusses her relationship to Lake View Cemetery Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Little Italy Residents Maintain Lakeview Bob Hook and Mary Krohmer of Lakeview Cemetery describe the work of Little Italy residents on the cemetery grounds. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

The Haserot Angel The well known weeping angel that sits on top the Haserot family gravestone is actually named "The Angel of Death Victorious". Cast out of bronze, weathering has made her look like she is crying black tears. Source: Image courtesy of Erik Drost
Procession, Circa 1903 This photograph shows the first funeral procession in Lake View Cemetery in which automobiles (as opposed to horse-drawn carriages) were used. The hearse (second from right) was made from the body of an old horse-drawn hearse which was then placed on an automobile frame made by Cleveland's White Motor Company. Source: Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: ca. 1903
Lake View Dam, 1977 Shown here under construction, the dam in Lake View Cemetery was completed in 1978. In 1967, the cemetery sued the cities of Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, and University Heights, alleging that their inadequate sewer systems were leading to the flooding of the Dugway Brook, which runs through the center of Lake View. As part of a court settlement, it was agreed that the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District would build a dam in the cemetery, with the various parties splitting the cost. The dam is over 500 feet wide, stands about 90 feet tall, and can hold over 80 million gallons of water. Source: Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: December 22, 1977
Gravediggers' Strike, 1947 A strike by 63 members of the AFL Arborists' and Landscapers' Union at Lake View Cemetery in 1947 lead to the delay in burial of over 100 people that spring and summer. Bodies had to be temporarily stored in Wade Chapel as negotiations with the strikers stalled. Lasting from April until July, the strike finally ended when union members accepted a 4 cent-an-hour wage increase -- 6 cents lower than what they had initially demanded. Picket lines, such as this one on May 23, were a common occurrence during the strike until a Cuyahoga County judge banned them at the beginning of June, citing the cemetery's "sacred obligation to bury the dead." This action cleared the way for Lake View to hire replacement workers. Source: Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1947
Garfield Monument The flyer from dedication day of the Garfield Monument shows various people enjoying a visit to Lake View. James Garfield was born in what is now Moreland Hills, Ohio in 1831. A deranged office-seeker gunned down President Garfield in Washington D.C. only four months into his term. The President clung to life for two months after the shooting but died on September 19, 1881. His body was interred in a temporary mausoleum at Lake View Cemetery until the monument shown here was dedicated on Memorial Day 1890. The 180-foot tall Garfield Monument, designed by architect George Keller, contains the caskets of Garfield and his wife in a below-ground crypt. Five terra cotta panels on the exterior of the monument depict the stages of Garfield's life in vivid detail through the presence of 110 life-sized bas-relief figures. Date: 1890
Joseph Carabelli Company Ad Many of the monuments in Lake View were created and designed by Carabelli & Broggini (now the Johns-Carabelli Company). The company was established by Guiseppe Carabelli and James Broggini, two Italian stonemasons. The monuments were originally chiseled on site until the skilled sculptors and masons disappeared as the older generations died. The most notable monuments completed by Carabelli Company are the Wade Chapel, Rockefeller’s obelisk, and the Brush monument. Source: 1940 Cleveland Directory Date: 1940
John D. Rockefeller Grave Industrialist John D. Rockefeller died in 1937 and was buried in Lake View beneath this 70 foot obelisk, the tallest marker in the cemetery. Source: Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections.
Memorial Day, 1935 Women from the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary and the Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary place a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Lake View on Memorial Day 1935. Source: Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1935
Daffodil Hill A small glimpse of Daffodil Hill. Source: Image courtesy of Tim Evanson

Location

12316 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106

Metadata

Jasmine Prezenkowski, “Lake View Cemetery,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 30, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/76.