Stop 2: Rosehill Mausoleum

Rosehill Cemetery 5800 N Ravenswood Ave

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum
Written By The Richard H. Driehaus Museum

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum explores the art, architecture, and design of the late 19th century to the present. Its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions are presented in an immersive experience within the restored Nickerson Mansion, completed in 1883. Vibrant educational and cultural programs, as well as exhibitions, place the Gilded Age in context and illuminate the history, culture and urban fabric of Chicago. Photo by Alexander Vertikoff, 2014.

Rosehill Mausoleum

Rosehill Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city of Chicago. Spanning 325 acres, Rosehill is the final resting place for many famous Chicagoans including victims of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Oscar Mayer, and designer of the Driehaus Museum’s Maher Gallery, George Washington Maher (Stop 5 on Chicago’s Tiffany Trail). Within the walls of the Rosehill Mausoleum are over 30 Tiffany stained-glass windows which adorn the various crypts.

To identify the crypts within the Rosehill Mausoleum, look above each entrance for the last name of the family entombed. The windows are usually placed at the back of each crypt and can be easily viewed from outside the crypt. Some of the mosaics are placed along the sides of the crypt. The entrance of the Rosehill Mausoleum was built in the 1930s, while the original entrance–no longer used for entry–was built in 1914. The crypts you will find in the original 1914 mausoleum include those for the Shedd, Adams, Thorne, and Sears families. The 1930s addition includes the Dalmar and Marks crypts. There are very few Tiffany windows that are signed, but themes to look for when identifying a Tiffany window include pastoral scenes featuring irises; seascapes with ships and the north star in the distance; and angelic figures ready to guide the deceased into the afterlife.

One of the most unusual Tiffany commissions in the Rosehill Mausoleum is the crypt of John G. Shedd, founder of the Shedd Aquarium. Shedd was the president of Marshall Field & Co. while Tiffany was installing his famous mosaic ceiling at their Chicago flagship State Street store (now Macy’s, Stop 8 on Chicago’s Tiffany Trail). He was so impressed by Tiffany’s work, Shedd commissioned a Tiffany window for his crypt in the original 1914 Rosehill Mausoleum building. The Angel of Truth triptych window displays Tiffany’s eye for color, illustrating a hooded figure holding a sword and a torch in a moonlit landscape. There is no documentation as to why Shedd chose this particular scene to adorn his final resting place. However, when the sun hits the window at the right angle, the crypt is illuminated by the rich blue and green glass, perhaps a stylistic nod to the aquarium which bears his name.

Other Tiffany commissions inside the Rosehill Mausoleum include the Adams crypt, which contains a copy of the center panel of Shedd’s stained glass window. Although it is not signed, it is believed to also be done by Tiffany. Both the Thorne and Sears Memorials contain possible Tiffany mosaics. The Thorne Memorial is the final resting place of Narcissa Nidblack Thorne, creator of the Thorne Miniature Rooms on display at the Art Institute of Chicago (Stop 10 on Chicago’s Tiffany Trail). The Sears Memorial belongs to Richard Warren Sears, co-founder of Sears, Roebuck & Co. His crypt contains a Tiffany pastoral window to the right side and a Tiffany mosaic of Christ as a shepherd at the rear of his memorial chapel. Both memorials can be found in the original 1914 Mausoleum. The Marks crypt holds the only Tiffany jewel window in the mausoleum, while Chicago Symphony violinist, Hugo Dalmar commissioned a Tiffany window depicting his violin against a backdrop of his backyard in the North Shore for his crypt.

Free, Open daily at 8:00 am and locked at 4:00 pm. Do not get locked in! NO PHOTOGRAPHY IS PERMITTED IN THE MAUSOLEUM. If there is a service in the mausoleum, you will not be permitted entrance. The mausoleum is located on the western side of the cemetery near the corner of Western & Bryn Mawr. Enter the mausoleum through the modern addition.

Cover photo credit: Frank Malawski via Flickr.

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Stop 2: Rosehill Mausoleum

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