Graceland Cemetery Lake Edge Restoration
Trustees of Graceland Cemetery
Lake Willowmere, a seven acre lake at Graceland Cemetery, is one of the principal landscape elements of the naturalistic landscape designed by Ossian Cole Simonds during the late nineteenth century. Simonds intended that the line between land and water be blurred by trees and shrubs overhanging the bank such that the water would disappear mysteriously below the overhanging planting. This effect was realized and maintained for years, but was eventually lost due to shrub removal for maintenance and security, tree decline and removal, and decades of wave erosion on the banks. The naturalistic edge was eventually replaced by a high rubble-stone retaining wall.
The Trustees of Graceland, after review of the historic photographs, asked Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc. in 1998 to prepare plans for restoration of a portion of the lake edge. The area around the Goodman and Palmer monuments was selected because original planting plans existed and the landscape could be accurately restored. In order to minimize future bank erosion one course of stone was re-set at the normal water level; the balance of the stone was removed, and the bank was regraded. All of the original trees, shrubs, and other plants were replanted, and vines were added so that the stone would eventually be covered and the bright band of stone at water level would become less visible. The lake edge and the landscape around these two historic monuments now presents a view of Simonds’ landscape from the turn of the century. Graceland Cemetery received an Illinois Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award in 2001.