I'm not kidding; look at the photo I snapped of the Reflecting Pond across from Wade Chapel in Lake View Cemetery. Yes, it is that peaceful and gorgeous. Elliot Ness had his ashes scattered in this pond. Are you curious? Are you curious about all the other famous people buried in the hundreds of acres that make up Lake View? Then read on!
My friend and author Casey Daniels was the host of a Lolly the Trolley Tour sponsored by the Fairview Park Branch of the Cuyahoga County Library System. The Tour had a mystery 'bent' to it; Casey's Pepper Martin books take place in Cleveland neighborhoods like Little Italy and Ohio City. And Pepper Martin, the Series Heroine, works at Lakeview, errrr, Gardenview cemetery when she' not solving murders. It was a great reason to get out and explore Cleveland on a sunny, 85 degree day. We toured other places like Erie Street Cemetery, The Rock Hall and The West Side Market, but the highlight was Lake View Cemetery.
What is Lake View and what is so special about a cemetery? I call it Cleveland's Central Park. Lake View was built in the 1860s and modeled after great cemeteries in Europe. It encompasses almost 300 acres of land, with walkable trails, memorials, thousands of tombstones that are works of art in themselves. Here are some highlights of other famous NE Ohioans (and famous people from elsewhere who adopted NE Ohio) buried there:
Jeptha Wade: he founded Western Union but was also very attuned to nature. He was responsible for building Wade Park (yes it's named after him) and was the first President of the Lake View Cemetery Association. How fitting that Wade Chapel is a memorial to him. I had never been inside before. The walls are lined with Tiffany-style mosaics detailing Old Testament rules and regulations and the Flight of the Souls Tiffany Favrille window (the focal point of the chapel) is truly breathtaking. Factoid: The original green coke bottle used Tiffany style glass!
Dr. Harvey Williams Cushing: A famous brain surgeon who went on to amass a library of books that became the heart of the original Yale University Medical Library. He was considered one of, if not THE greatest neurosurgeon of the 20th Century. Oh yes, and like so many other people from our great area, he invented or enhanced a lot of things: he introduced the use of XRAYS for patient diagnosis; he also invented a thing to measure blood pressure. (Some day I will have to do a post on all the great inventions that arise from our area...I think it's the smell of the smokestacks that enhanced creativity lol)
James Garfield: Who only wound up being President of the U.S. for three months, but that was only because he was assassinated. His memorial was breathtaking. (See photo taken from top floor deck; I enjoyed the soaring of a hawk from that vantage point but was not able to capture him on camera). His memorial is Gothic and beautiful and well worth the trip inside. He was a famous Civil War Officer and that is how he came to be the 20th President of the United States.
John D. Rockefeller: Unless you live in a cave (or are under 30), you know who this guy is. He founded Standard Oil in 1870 and the rest is history. It was not one of the City of Cleveland's best moves, aggravating Mr. Rockefeller, who left Cleveland in a snit and of course went on to spend the rest of his time in NYC. It was most definitely our loss. However he made his mark here. There were SO MANY ancillary companies that grew and operated because of Standard Oil.
Carl B. Stokes: The first African American Mayor of a major city in the United States. I was in awe of him when I was in my 20s as he sat at the dinner table with other creative thinkers of his time discussing his vision for Cleveland. (no, I was not lucky enough to have him at MY home, but I WAS lucky to have friends who knew him). Besides being Mayor, he served as a Municipal Judge and later became a U.S. Ambassador (appointed by President Clinton) to The Seychelles. There are 21 other Cleveland Mayors buried in Lake View.
I think you get the idea. There are way too many famous people to name; they obviously wanted to be buried there for the same reason I want to keep visiting; it's beautiful. You do not however, need to be famous to be buried there. 285 pastoral acres to walk in complete serenity. You can do tours that originate at the Cemetery; you can hire Lolly the Trolley to take you there with forty of your friends; or you can obviously just go on your own, which is how I had previously explored sections of Lake View. One of my friends commented on Sunday, that you could go once a month for the rest of your life and probably not experience every thing there is to offer.
So whether you are visiting the Cleveland area or you live here, I highly recommend meandering to one of our Citie's great treasures. Peace Out - 3C