Graceland Cemetery

Graceland Cemetery:
A Design History

Christopher Vernon

Published by University of Massachusetts Press in association with LALH

Cloth $39.95
Winter 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55849-926-3
To order: University of Massachusetts Press
tel. 800-537-5487, fax 410-516-6998

Graceland Cemetery in Chicago was founded in 1860 and developed over several decades by a series of landscape gardeners whose reputations today figure among the most important in the field. An exemplar of the rural cemetery type, Graceland was Chicago’s answer to its eastern counterparts, Mount Auburn in Cambridge and Laurel Hill in Philadelphia. While the initial layout of the cemetery was the work of William Saunders, designer of Laurel Hill, the cemetery is most often associated with a later style of design that featured exclusive use of native plants. Graceland was considered one of the most perfect expressions of this design approach, hailed as the most “modern” cemetery in existence and “the admiration of the world.” In this book, Christopher Vernon carefully recovers the history of Graceland and the many hands that helped to shape its influential layout.

Following Saunders’s work, a succession of individuals contributed to the long evolution of Graceland’s landscape, including H. W. S. Cleveland, William Le Baron Jenney, and O. C. Simonds. In recent years, renewed interest in native plants and principles associated with the Prairie School of landscape design has led to a focus on Simonds’s contributions. While Vernon discusses Simonds’s work, he also considers the work of the cemetery’s other designers.

Known as the “Cemetery of Architects” because so many notable ones are buried there, Graceland remains a heavily visited attraction. This richly illustrated book helps readers understand how the influential and still beautiful landscape was developed over many generations, casting new light on the careers of several important landscape architects.

CHRISTOPHER VERNON, an associate professor in the School of Architecture, Landscape, and Visual Arts at the University of Western Australia, is also the author of the introduction to the LALH reprint edition of The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening (1915) by Wilhelm Miller. His extensive publications address topics including the landscape architecture of Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin; the designed landscapes of Canberra, Australia; and the Prairie School in American landscape architecture.

Download the Introduction

“Vernon’s book places this important work of landscape architecture within the context of Chicago’s growth as a commercial epicenter, gracefully untangling the threads of Graceland’s evolving design which, by the turn of the nineteenth century, had become the impetus for the Midwest’s first regional movement in landscape architecture: the Prairie School.”
—William Tishler, Editor, Midwestern Landscape Design