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 .
8 thoughts on “An Elevator in a Cemetery!”
The elevator in the picture is located at Rosehill Cemetery and stands to this very day. Rosehill Cemetery is historic, with three beautiful ponds, a gazebo dedicated to Vietnam veterans, civil war service men, a beautiful tribute to Firemen and the civil war. I had the pleasure of working in the office, there and learned about the history of Rosehill Cemetery. There is so much more to write, but I suggest that a historical tour.
Thanks for writing Judy! Rosehill is a great cemetery. Lived just blocks from there. Most of my family are there. I share your enthusiasm!
My very first love is buried at Rosehill Cemetery. He is buried at the one on Peterson Avenue across the street from the main Rosehill Cemetery. The one on Peterson where Jay is buried has only flat markers
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Do they do tours?
I have never inquired. So I have always admired it from the outside. I surmise there is not much inside other than a platform and guess at a rope pulley system. I just may ask next time I am there to visit my parents and grandparents.
Not being from Chicago, but rather a regular visitor, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Archer Avenue’s Resurrection Cemetery as well as Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery.
I love folklore, ghost stories, architecture and sculpture; visiting cemeteries provides all of the above in one fell swoop! Thank you for your research; much obliged!
Really awesome story! Appreciate the research and have lots of family there but didn’t know that building was an elevator!
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