Graceland Cemetery Ridgeland, Evergreen, and Chapel Subdivisions
Trustees of Graceland Cemetery
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. 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. Historical research was conducted and summarized noting significant events and periods. Recommendations including a phasing plan were submitted for the appropriate techniques to be employed in the cemetery’s restoration of the landscape, structures, and monuments. The Plan renewed Graceland Cemetery’s perspective on restoring, maintaining, and developing its property and continues to initiate projects, including: Ridgeland Section, Section O; Evergreen Section; and Chapel, Section C.
In 1996, research into the Ridgeland Section uncovered archival information on over half of the vicinity. To ensure accuracy, Wolff Landscape Architecture developed restoration plans directly on photographic reproductions of the historic plans. Where existing conditions precluded exact restoration, the historic plants were located according to the historic planting principles.
Evergreen Section was being underutilized as part of the old maintenance yard. In 2006, Wolff Landscape Architecture was hired to layout a new plot configuration in Evergreen and continue in Simonds’ historic landscape tradition. Native planting was used to create spatial enclosure and define these new spaces.
In 2008 the historic Holabird & Roche chapel renovation was completed, restoring it to its original 1886 footprint and adhering to its historic design. This renovation resulted in new open space around the building and an opportunity to develop new plots. Conforming to Simonds’ historic principles and plant palette, planting was installed to createoutdoor rooms and spatial enclosure around a new plot layout.