Ending Our Year with Grave Reviews, Annual Meeting, June 26, 2011

Ending Our Year with Grave Reviews

by Brent Brotine
Photos by Cindy McEwen

Our year-end Annual Meeting is seldom a dead serious event, but there are always exceptions—such as our meeting on Sunday, June 26th at
Chicago’s famed Graceland Cemetery at Clark and Lawrence. This historical landmark, established in 1860, is the final resting place of many prominent Chicagoans—including the renowned names behind the Chicago School of Architecture, famous industrialists and noted movers and shakers.

Nearly two dozen C3 members and guests met at the cemetery entrance on a sunny afternoon for a docent-led tour. Among the highlights were the many tombs and mausoleums that were built by Chicago’s leading architects.

The piece de resistance of all the monuments in Graceland is the Getty Tomb, designed by Louis Sullivan for the wife of industrialist Henry Harrison Getty. It is an official landmark, marking the beginning of modern architecture in America.

Sullivan also designed the Ryerson Tomb, built in black granite in an Egyptian Pyramid style. His own resting place at Graceland, however, is relatively modest with a single headstone.

Instead of a monument, Daniel Burnham is buried on a separate wooded isle in the Graceland Cemetery lake that is certainly apt given his devotion to Chicago’s lakefront. Another appropriate less-is-more grave is that of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, whose black granite marker was designed by his grandson, architect Dirk Lohan.

Two exceptionally striking gravesites features bronze statues by sculptor Lorado Taft, which have taken on a green patina over time. Eternal Silence adorns the plot of early settler Dexter Graves, and The Crusader marks Chicago Daily News publisher Victor Lawson’s resting place.

Other well-known citizens buried at Graceland include mayors Joseph Medill, Fred Busse and Carter Harrison Sr. and Jr., meat packing magnate Philip Armour, retailer Marshall Field, boxer Jack Johnson, reaper inventor Cyrus McCormick, architect (and husband of Dawn Clark) Walter Netsch, choreographer Ruth Page, detective Allan Pinkerton, and railroad magnate George Pullman.

After our tour, the entire group adjourned to nearby Andies Restaurant on Montrose for a Mediterranean dinner and good conversation. The briefest business meeting in C3 history consisted of nomination, unanimous voting and confirmation of the new slate of Board members, with
no additional business discussed. And as the surprise recipient could not join us, our announcement of this year’s Friend of C3 award is being delayed for an upcoming meeting when he or she is present. So if you’re handicapping at home, you can cross off anyone who’s face shows up in these pictures.