As you may have guessed, I was in Cleveland this past weekend visiting family and friends. One of the Cleveland attractions I’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to, is a tour of Lake View Cemetery. So with family in tow, I traversed the gravestone-lined, sometimes hilly landscape in search of history, both personal and otherwise. The cemetery boasts a number of gravestones and monuments dedicated to famous people, including our 20th president and Ohio native James Garfield, Eliot Ness, and Rockefeller to name a few. Some of my relatives rest in peace there, so it was nice to go and pay my respects, especially to my great grandparents whose gravestone I had never visited before. It’s also home to Wade Chapel, which features an interior completely designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his studios, and still hosts weddings and services. It amazes me that I am still discovering these hidden gems of Cleveland that are free and open to the public.
My family and I opted for our own self-guided tour, but you can schedule a private walking or bus tour for groups of 12 or more. If you go the self-guided route, I would highly recommend finding a map online to help plan your trip. Most of the major landmarks are easy to find, but we had trouble finding Eliot Ness and some of our relatives. My sister actually used Google maps to find some of the points of interest.
We started out with Eliot Ness (Section 7, Plot 8), the prohibition agent who brought down Al Capone, because his grave is not near any of the other major landmarks. When looking for his site, we also came across Harvey Pekar, the author of the autobiographical comic book American Splendor. His grave site is fittingly covered in pens and pencils that people have stuck in the ground over the years. Ness’s gravestone has a small toy cop car on top. Kind of charming.
We then moved on to Wade Chapel, the neoclassical building with the Tiffany-designed interior. It is one of the few like it left in the world. The theme is titled “The Voyage of Life.” Beautiful mosaics are featured on both the east and west walls, but the most stunning part is the stained glass window titled “The Flight of Souls.” It features Tiffany’s “Favrile” method, which makes it seem like the window is lit up even on a cloudy day.
Rockefeller is close by so we visited him next. While looking up the different monuments to visit online, I was reminded of the fact that Rockefeller was the first billionaire. It’s crazy to think someone could have amassed so much wealth during that time period.
Last of the major landmarks is the James Garfield Memorial. It’s quite an impressive sandstone structure with a second-floor balcony that you can access by venturing up 64 steps from the lobby. The statue of Garfield is surrounded by stained glass windows depicting the 13 original colonies plus Ohio. You can find his casket covered with an American flag in the basement. It’s the only presidential casket on full display.
The grounds are beautiful and feature various trees, shrubbery, and ponds. A cool but sunny fall day was the perfect time to walk around this lovely place.