One of the most unusual buildings in a Chicago area cemetery is one that consists of just an elevator. It is a beautiful structure with stained glass windows and could easily be thought of as a small chapel. The questions most often asked are where and why.
Back in the day, the two most common means of a Chicago funeral getting to the cemetery was either accomplished by horse drawn hearse or a daily Chicago and Northwestern Railroad funeral train from downtown Chicago. Rosehill Cemetery on Chicago’s far north side was reached by both.
The railroad tracks as well as the Rosehill Cemetery station platform were above grade. This created a problem in moving the casket from the funeral train to the cemetery below at ground level. Pallbearers, with some difficulty, could walk the casket down a set of stairs, but a manually operated elevator in a separate building alongside the railroad tracks made the task easier. Safely lowered, the casket could then be loaded on horse and wagon for the final procession to the gravesite.
Funeral trains and the elevator building are no longer in uses, but the “elevator in a cemetery” has survived .