Graceland Cemetery Restoration Plan
The Trustees of Graceland Cemetery, Eifler & Associates
Graceland Cemetery is one of the early Midwest examples of the prairie school of natural landscaping. Its period of greatest significance has been identified as 1880 to 1930, when its significant development occurred under superintendent and consulting landscape architect Ossian Cole Simonds. By 1990 the landscape was a shadow of its former self, which had featured framed vistas, outdoor rooms and spatial enclosure around significant monuments, and a naturalistic style utilizing large numbers of native plants. Ornamental trees and the understory plantings of shrubs and groundcover were gone, and the landscape was composed solely of shade trees and lawn.
The Trustees became aware of the loss the landscape had suffered over time, and they asked Eifler & Associates, architects, and Wolff Associates, landscape architects (our predecessor), to prepare an historical structure and landscape report. This started with historical research; large numbers of plans and photographs were located in storage rooms, and were catalogued by location, date, author, and other facts. A chronology was prepared from the cemetery’s inception to the present; the history was summarized and significant events and periods noted. Finally, recommendations were submitted for the appropriate techniques to be employed in the cemetery’s restoration of the landscape, structures, and monuments. Restoration recommendations included budget estimates and a phasing plan.
The Plan was adopted informally, and initiated a number of projects: the prototype landscape restoration (1991); a columbarium (1995); ridgeland restoration (1996); and lake edge restoration (1998 – 2001). Graceland Cemetery received an Illinois Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award in 2001.