Cher’s Art & Travel, Minneapolis, MN
20 September 2021
Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Our recent Travel Date to the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis, also included a self-guided tour of Lakewood Cemetery, bordering on Bde Maka Ska / Lake Calhoun. The experience was larger, more impressive and richer than we expected. We spend two hours walking/driving around and barely made a dent; we could have spent much longer had we budgeted the time.
A Cemetery – only for the dead?
Not at Lakewood!
Lakewood is very much alive – despite being a cemetery! It is filled with history, art, architecture, culture and natural beauty.
The historic chapel – an architectural masterpiece in its own right – hosts concerts and weddings as well as funerals and memorial services.
The pre-trip prep was definitely worth the time for a visit to Lakewood. Their website was invaluable with excellent maps, printable handouts on various subjects to use on our self-guided tour. My only regret was that, once again, the chapel was closed so we did not get to see the interior – which I’ve heard is breathtaking! (Details below)
Lakewood. . .
- has been around since 1871
- is a serene haven in the heart of Minneapolis’ renowned Chain of Lakes
- is a place to pay tribute, remember and reflect
- has 250 acres of urban memorial parkland to serve as a community gathering place and a chronicle of our regions traditions, cultures and people
- is a history keeper and a thought leader
- honors its roots as a landmark cemetery while re-imagining its role in modern life through thoughtfully designed events, experiences and spaces
These attributes, as listed in the intro to Lakewood Cemetery A Self-Guided Tour, (lakewoodcemetery.org) will serve as the outline for our fascinating journey through time and history amidst the beauty of nature and art. (Outside of personal reflections and observations, all information on this blog has been taken from the Lakewood website and printed resources – lakewoodcemetery.org)
Lakewood Cemetery: Location & Landscape
. . . A serene haven in the heart of Minneapolis’ renowned Chain of Lakes
On the Chain of Lakes, Minneapolis
See blog on the Chain of Lakes for more on these lakes
Between Two Lakes
Bde Maka Ska / Lake Calhoun is to the west. Lake Harriet is to the south.
Great views of Bde Maka Ska / Lake Calhoun can be seen from the western slopes of the cemetery.
This pond (see SW corner in the map on far left) is a peaceful and serene water feature located within Lakewood’s 250 acres of rolling hills and beautiful landscape. This onsite lake offers benches and quiet open spaces to reflect.
The site of an annual Lantern Lighting Celebration, it is also used for private scattering services and memorial events.
The Garden of Serenity, on the southeastern side, memorializes individuals who have chosen cremation.
Landscaping & 95,000 Flowers
Known for its landscape, it is one of the most lovely urban cemeteries in the country. Designed as a “garden” or “rural” cemetery, Lakewood has been carefully planned and developed since the 1870s.
Eleven miles of wide, winding roads and an eight-acre lake were built by workers aided by horses and wagons decades ago.
Lakewood has one of the largest greenhouse operations in the United States, hosting popular spring tours. To ensure its year-round beauty, groundskeepers plant more than 95,000 flowers each spring!
Lakewood Cemetery: the Main Buildings
The three main buildings are in a complex just inside the front gates.
- The Administration Building with its Classic Ionic columns (1929) also serves as a Welcome Center.
- The exquisite Byzantine Chapel is the oldest building in the cemetery (1910).
- The dignified Memorial Community Mausoleum is the most recent additions (1967).
- The Pool of Reflection connects the Chapel at one end and the stately Mausoleum at the other, with spacious lawns and gardens between.
Lakewood Cemetery covers 250 acres and has eleven miles of roads winding throughout.
Administration / Welcome Center
Enter on the north side, off of West 36th Street. Immediately inside the front gates stands the stately Administration Building, completed in 1929. It serves as a Welcome Center for visitors.
Traveler Tip: Lovely, colored brochures are available for self-guided tours onsite and online. An onsite kiosk is available if you want to located a grave/memorial within the cemetery. (It was down the day were visited, so it is advisable to check the website before you go)
Lakewood Memorial Chapel
Many experts now believe that a work of such magnitude could not be recreated at any price today, as artisans possessing the necessary skills have passed into history.” Designed by prominent Minneapolis architect Harry Wild Jones and modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“If this chapel were somewhere in Europe, thousands of Americans would visit it each year. Never have we seen anything to equal it in this country—not even the famous mosaics of the Library of Congress at Washington impressed us so greatly.” From a journalist in 1931
“The Memorial Chapel is the centerpiece of the cemetery and a priceless architectural treasure—the most perfect example of Byzantine mosaic art in the United States. When it was completed in 1910, it was the only building in America with an authentic mosaic interior.
Through the years, visitors have been astonished to find such an outstanding architectural jewel in the heart of the Midwest.
The Memorial Chapel is open for funerals and private events, even weddings (based on availability and restrictions).
Lakewood Mausoleum Complex
. . . A place to pay tribute, remember and reflect
The Mausoleum area has several components. The Memorial Community Mausoleum and Columbarium (1967) and Garden Mausoleum and Reception Center (2011) fit seamless together.
Famous people in the walls. . .
- “Tiny Tim”(Herbert B. Khaury), New York native (d. 1996)
- Ukulele playing, falsetto-voiced entertainer
- Entombed here with his ukulele (and a tulip) in his hand.
- Lived in Minnesota with 3rd wife when he died
- Died from a heart attack on stage singing his infamous “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis.
- His 1969 wedding on the Johnny Carson Show was the most watched TV event up to that time.
- Contemporary design
- Minnesota granite
- Soft gray/white mosaics
- Natural light
- Marble, wood, bronze and onyx
- . . . Calm and Peaceful!
- Warm wood paneling
- Italian marble
- Crystal chandeliers, mosaics,
- 24 eight-foot-high stained glass windows which illustrate biblical verses and secular poetry
- . . . Lovely!
Three elements create a sense of peace and calm, an environment conducive to contemplation and healing:
- Abundant natural light, evoking a sense of spirituality, warmth and comfort
- Beauty and craftsmanship—evident from the moment you enter
- A close connection to Lakewood’s greatest asset—the landscape.
Lakewood Cemetery: The Monuments
. . . A history keeper
Lakewood Cemetery: Monuments for History Present
What is modern? In a city that is barely 150 years old? Technically everything is modern!
So. . . I’ve divided “past” into the early years of the area (late 1800s, early 1900s) – and “present” as in the last half of the 20th century and forward.
“Present” also includes names of people with whom I can identify. Names of people who I knew in their lifetime – and I remember when they died. Such is the selection of the three political figures I’ve included. Whether or not one agreed with them politically or not, they each put Minnesota on the national and international map in a positive way.
- Hubert Humphrey because he honored Minnesota both as a U.S. Senator and as Vice President of the United States.
- Paul Wellstone stands out because of the tragic manner of his death while an influential U.S. Senator.
- Rudy Perpich because of the impact he and his wife Lola had on the art community in Minnesota during his time as longest serving Minnesota Governor.
The design of their tombstones is interestingly representative of their lives as well.
Hubert H. Humphrey, U.S vice president
- Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978), the “Happy Warrior”
- Famous for civil rights activities and liberal ideas.
- Active in politics, he was
- Vice President of the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson (1964-1968),
- Ran for US President (DFL) in 1968, was narrowly defeated by Richard Nixon
- US Senator from MN (1948-64; 1970 – 1978),
- and Mayor of Minneapolis (1945-49).
Fondly Remembered: One a cold January day of his funeral, more than 3,000 people gathered near Lakewood to mourn. In the days that followed, some 200 cars per hour drove through Lakewood to glimpse Humphrey’s monument. People still come from all over the country to visit his grave.
Paul Wellstone, U.S senator
- Paul D. Wellstone (1944-2002)
- U.S. senator (DFL) and politician known for his grassroots campaigns and devotion to liberal causes.
- Taught political science at Carlton College, Northfield, MN for 21 years.
- Defeated a two-term incumbent to become US senator (1990), a role he held until his death (2002).
- His wife, Sheila, campaigned with him and was an advocate for victims of domestic violence.
- Wellstone (age 58), his wife and daughter (Marcia) died tragically in a plane crash in northern Minnesota.
- Son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, his parents instilled in him a commitment to justice and civic activism.
Of special interest to me were the stones on the grave marker. I became aware of these in my travel to Israel. Jewish people put stones on their graves in the way many of us put flowers.
I did some digging and here is what I found “Leaving stones or pebbles on a grave is an ancient Jewish tradition, but its origins are unclear. It is not a commandment, rather a custom or tradition. Over time, many different interpretations have been offered for this practice. Flowers, though beautiful, will eventually die. A stone can symbolize the permanence of memory and will not die.” (jewish-funeral-home.com/why-do-jews-place-stones-or-pebbles-on-a-grave/)
Rudy Perpich, MN governor
- Rudy Perpich (1928-1995)
- Minnesota’s longest-serving governor over two terms – 1976-1979 and 1983-1991. (36th and 38th governor)
- His 1982 running mate Marlene Johnson, became Minnesota’s first female lieutenant governor
- Appointed first woman to the MN state Supreme Court, Rosalie Wahl.
- Made Minnesota visible on a world scale. His “eccentric” ideas brought Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Super Bowl and Mall of America to Minnesota.
- Roots as a dentist from northern Minnesota’s iron range.
- A proponent of education and the arts, Perpich’s legacy of projects in Minnesota include the Minnesota World Trade Center in Saint Paul, the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute, and the Mall of America in Bloomington.
I was especially interested in the design of his monument, since he and his wife were such proponents of the arts. His modern, stainless steel monument (by artist Gloria Tew) was commissioned for him by his wife Lola in 1996.
Lakewood Cemetery: “Monument Hill”
Art & Architecture – The heyday of designing cemetery art was between 1850 and 1930. Three styles were particularly popular:
- Classical Revival: a woman draped in flowing Grecian robes is typical
- Egyptian Revival: the pyramid and obelisk
- Medieval Revival: hefty, round Romanesque lines – or delicate detailed Gothic style
Lakewood has all three, as well as countless one-of-a-kind monuments. The earliest ones are in the same area, close to the main buildings. They are difficult to miss as they are tall, impressive and often imposing! I call this “Monument Hill!”
The Large Monuments in History Past
There are so many to choose from…I’ve selected a few of my favorites to share because of the monument, the person, or their impact on history! You’ll probably recognize these names for something in your life today!
Washburn-Crosby Flour Mills became General Mills.
High on what I call “Monument Hill,” Skip helps us see the scale and size of this monument!
- William D. Washburn (1831-1912)
- served Minnesota as US Senator, businessman, appointee of President Lincoln as Surveyor General of Minnesota
- Lakewood founder who built his fortune in lumber, flour milling and railroads.
- His brother, C.C. Washburn, joined him in Minnesota and founded the Washburn-Crosby mill, now General Mills.
Minnesota Governor; University of Minnesota
Also high on “Monument Hill,” the scale and size of this monument can be seen in the close up of me taken next to it below! (See that tiny figure at the lower left side of the monument??!)
- John S. Pillsbury (1827-1901)
- Minnesota governor for 3 terms (1876-1882), state senator, businessman and philanthropist.
- Helped establish the University of Minnesota.
- Started a hardware business in St. Anthony (1855), served as a St. Anthony alderman.
Walker Art Center; Walker Residence
This memorial is one of the first to be seen as it is near the entrance and on the north side of the mausoleum.
- Thomas B. Walker (1840-1928)
- He and his wife, Harriet, created the Walker Art Center (opened 1927) to house their extensive art collection.
- Harriet (and friends) began the Bethany Home for unwed mothers (1876). It is now the site of Walker Place and Walker Methodist Residence (37th and Bryant, Minneapolis).
Lowry Hill is named for them.
This mausoleum is one of the most impressive examples of Classical Revival Funerary architecture in the country. A replica of the Parthenon in Athens, this mausoleum is the largest monument in Lakewood Cemetery.
Sitting high on a hill, it is an impressive sight to behold! It introduces a whole string of smaller mausoleums in similar Classical Revival style along the road.
- Dr. Calvin Goodrich (d. 1915)
- Lakewood’s first president, a prominent physician and vehement abolitionist who helped many slaves escape to the north.
- Helped organize the Northwestern National bank (Norwest and now Wells Fargo).
- Thomas Lowry (1843-1909), attorney and land developer, married Beatrice Goodrich (1870).
- A Lakewood founder
- Created Lake Street in the late 1870s.
- Consolidated the transit systems of Minneapolis and St. Paul into the Twin City Rapid Transit Company, MTC (1886).
- Mr. and Mrs. Lowry were the toasts of Mpls society. Rumors abounded that they spent $100,000 on their house, located at the top of Hennepin Hill, now called Lowry Hill.
The City of Fridley, Minnesota is named in his honor.
This memorial is one of the first monuments – and largest – you will see as you leave the main building. It truly sets the tone for the whole “Lakewood Experience!”
- Abram M. Fridley (1817-1888)
- A farmer and frontier Indian agent, elected first territorial representative for the area (1855)
- A Minnesota State representative who introduced the first women’s suffrage bill in the Minnesota Legislature.
- Minnesota State Legislature (1879), of which Abram M. Fridley was still a member, changed the township’s name to bear his last name.
- The city of Fridley, Minnesota (north first-ring suburb of Minneapolis) is named in his honor.
Loring Park is named in his honor.
This memorial honors the man who is known as the “Father of the Parks,” Charles M. Loring, for his efforts to bring the beauty of nature to all citizens of Minneapolis.
- Charles M. Loring (1832-1922)
- A Lakewood founder.
- Spent 35 years developing the Minneapolis Park System.
- Minneapolis’ Central Park was renamed Loring Park in his honor (1890)
- Eastman family was closely connected to the Loring family
- Prominent members of Minneapolis society, especially with development of Nicollet Island.
Lakewood Cemetery: Honoring Historical Events
. . . A chronicle of events and experiences of our region
- Minneapolis Fire Department Relief Association monument
- Honors firefighters who have lost their lives protecting property and people of this community.
- Erected in 1892, the memorial features a fireman in dress uniform – a long coat and square-billed cap.
Maggie Menzel Memorial
- 1st person buried at Lakewood Cemetery
- 19 year old Maggie Menzel (d. 24 January 1872)
- I could find no mention is made of her connections with which she earned the honor of being the first person buried here!
- Grand Army of the Republic Memorial
- Donated by Lakewood Cemetery Association (1889)
- Civil War soldier is a tribute to the many men from Minnesota who died during the Civil War (1861-65).
- Near the memorial stands a Sawyer cannon made for the Union Army. This cannon represents a breakthrough in cannon design and is the only one existing model of its type remaining in the United States.
Washburn “A” Flour Mill Explosion Memorial
- An obelisk erected in 1885 commemorates the 18 men killed in the infamous 1878 Washburn “A” Mill explosion.
- Built of limestone (1874) by C.C. Washburn, the “A” Mill was the largest flour mill in the area.
- May 1878, a spark set off an explosion that rocked the city like an earthquake. The explosion and resulting fire, which engulfed six mills, remain one of the worst disasters in Minneapolis history.
This monument was of special interest to me as my great, great-grandfather worked at the Washburn “A” Mill in 1988, after immigrating from Sweden with his family.
Lakewood Cemetery: Honoring Specific Groups
. . . A chronicle of traditions, cultures and people of our region
Chinese Community Memorial
- Granite pagoda-styled monument, erected in the mid-1960s,
- Marks a section in Lakewood where many leaders of the Minneapolis Chinese community are buried.
Minnesota has historically been home to a small but thriving Chinese community. Despite the high cost, early Chinese immigrants favored returning the bones of their deceased to China to be buried near ancestors’ graves. The practice ended in the 1930s with the Japanese invasion of China.
- A section along the west fence of Lakewood set aside just for infants and young children.
- Created in the early 1960s, it was the first section to feature a central monument.
- White statue is of Jesus and an infant.
- Marble pedestal reads: “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for to such belongeth the kingdom of heaven.”
- Life-sized bronze elk guards members of the Brotherhood of Paternal Order of Elks, a fraternal organization.
- Created by E.L. Harvey
- Stands on a boulder overlooking Lakewood’s Jo Lake.
- Buried around the statue are many Elks who have died since 1900.
Lakewood Cemetery: Interesting Markers, Old & New
. . . Honors its roots as a landmark cemetery; re-imagining its role in modern life
One of the most interesting things about Lakewood Cemetery is that there is such a variety of styles of memorials and tombstones! These are just a few that I found interesting and want to share!
Lakewood Cemetery is a cemetery, yes – but so much more! A visit is a trip through time, through history. It is a lesson in art and architecture. It provides a time to enjoy beautiful gardens and bodies of water – and to pause and reflect on one’s own life as well of those memorialized in this space. The Lakewood cemetery website provides a wealth of information on the landscape, the buildings, the memorials and the people who rest here.
Lakewood Cemetery is a large private, non-sectarian cemetery located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Built in 1908, it is 250 acres. Added to NRHP: 20 October 1983
- Website: lakewoodcemetery.org (all information below has been taken from this website)
- Address: 3600 Hennepin Avenue at the southern end of the Uptown area.
- Open to Public: The park-like grounds are open to the public 365 days a year, and welcome visitors to come and explore all it has to offer.
- Hours OPEN:
- Cemetery gates are open every day, including holidays: Summer Hours: 8 am to 8 pm; Spring Daylight Savings Time until Labor Day
- Administration Building: Monday-Friday: 8 am to 4:30 p.; Saturday: 8 am – 12:00 pm
- Garden Mausoleum: 10 am – 4:30 pm daily
- Memorial Community Mausoleum: 10 am – 4:30 pm daily
- Download a map of the cemetery (see website) to guide you when visiting.
- Driving and Parking: Lakewood has miles of wide, winding roads for driving and walking throughout the grounds. You may park anywhere along the road, but please do not park or drive on the grass. Proceed slowly and respect the peacefulness by turning down your radio and voice.
- Bicycling: bicycles may be used to navigate your way to a loved one’s grave. However, out of respect to grieving families, they do not allow recreational bicycling at Lakewood. You are encouraged to take care if you do bicycle in the cemetery for courtesy and your safety. Drivers are easily distracted and may not see you. Racks are provided near the front gates for you to lock your bike while visiting.
- Visiting a Grave – A burial search located on the website will help you to locate a grave ahead of time. On site, there is an Information Kiosk (east side of Admin building), or you can stop into the office for help during open hours.
- Respect Requested – No matter your reason to visit Lakewood, out of respect for grieving families and the sacred nature of this space, you are kindly asked to practice good etiquette and follow the rules (posted on website and on-site signs) during your visit
- Self-Guided Tour by Cher B and Skip B, 22 August 2021
- All photos by Cher B or Skip B unless otherwise noted
- Lakewood Cemetery website: lakewoodcemetery.org
- Lakewood Cemetery published brochures (available onsite and on the website):
- Lakewood Cemetery: A Self-Guided Tour
- Lakewood Memorial Chapel: A Visitor’s Guide
- A Tour through History at Lakewood
- A Tour of Memorial Symbolism at Lakewood Cemetery