November 1, 2023 - The new entrance at Graceland Cemetery marks the threshold between the bustling city and a tranquil place of reflection, between celebration and remembrance, between the present and the past.

Earlier this month, we celebrated the dedication and grand opening of this legacy project, which has been a labor of love for our team. Every aspect, from the intricately crafted ironwork archway to the meticulously sourced reclaimed bricks and the thoughtfully curated selection of native and ornamental plants, has been imbued with care and precision. We’re beyond proud of this new entry and plaza, designed to honor the past while extending a warm welcome to the community for generations to come.

Doug Hoerr spoke at the dedication event on October 14th and the community was invited to celebrate the grand opening the following weekend.

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About the project:

Following the master plan to expand and improve sustainability efforts, horticultural offerings, and visitor amenities across the 160+-year-old cemetery, the main entrance at the corner of Irving Park Road and Clark Street was identified as a primary opportunity to revitalize the visitor experience.

The improvements situate the entry area as a forecourt to welcome visitors, with a brand-new ironwork archway crafted to mark the cemetery's threshold, referencing the original gatehouse from the 1860s. A new open pedestrian plaza improves access to the visitor center and provides a flexible space that acts as a gathering point. The renovation strives to maintain the sense of permanence of the cemetery by respecting its historical materials and creating a new gateway to welcome the next 100 years of Graceland.

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The project was featured in the November 2023 Landscape Architecture Magazine article Rest Easier by Zach Mortice:

If there’s a street named after someone in Chicago, they are likely buried at Graceland,” says Joshua Bauman, ASLA, a senior associate at Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects in Chicago. Founded in 1860 and the eternal home to many of the city’s greatest heroes, scoundrels, industrialists, and politicians, Graceland Cemetery also hosts national figures, such as the first Black champion heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson, and a concentration of architects (Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) that makes it a pilgrimage for design mavens.

Its 121 acres on the far north side of Chicago are “the keeper of a tremendous historical record,” says Stephanie Sloane, the vice president of L. F. Sloane Consulting Group, which manages historic cemeteries, including Graceland. “However, people haven’t always felt welcome to come in and explore that history.”

Read the full article here.

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Project Team

Bromsgrove Garden Ornaments – custom planters
Church Street Construction – demolition and foundations
David Douglas – masonry flatwork
Greengard – civil engineer
Douglas & Company – masonry flatwork
Mariani Landscape – landscape contractor
Marion Restoration – vertical masonry
Moshe Calamaro & Associates – structural engineer
North Shore Aggregate – flatwork
Quarra Stone Company – vertical masonry
VA Robinson – ironwork archway

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