What does a creepy angel, a Presidential memorial and a list of who’s who from Cleveland have in common? You’ll find them all at Lake View Cemetery.
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I can’t be the only one who looks for oddities when I travel. What fun is driving around the country if you’re going to be stuck doing the same tourist things as everyone else?
After a while, things just become mundane, and traveling begins to lose some of its luster.
When you are searching for strange, odd, out-of-the-way sights, you can mostly be assured that you will not be battling a crowd to get there, and you will stay excited about the new and different things you might find.
I like to look at it as a giant treasure hunt!
One place that combines tourist attraction and oddity close to home is – Cleveland’s own Lake View Cemetery.
Admittedly, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and may draw its fair share of ghost hunters, paranormal purveyors, and teens on Halloween but I’m not drawn to any of that. For me, this 285-acre cemetery is a wonderland waiting to be explored.
So never fear, if ghost hunting isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other Eerie Yet Beautiful Reasons to Visit Lake View Cemetary which has been called the outdoor art museum of Cleveland on more than one occasion and one of the attractions that I’ve included in both my books, Secret Cleveland: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure and 100 Things to do Cleveland Before You Die, 2nd Edition.
Allow me to share just a few of the beautiful and ornate monuments you’ll find in this cemetery near me.
Memorials, Monuments, Mausoleums, Oh My! All the Reasons to Visit Lake View Cemetery
Without making too light of the situations surrounding the beautiful tributes housed within Lake View Cemetery, these are sights you have to see to believe.
James A. Garfield Memorial
The James A. Garfield Memorial is 180 feet tall and as ornate as memorials come.
The building itself was designed by architect George Keller, and the panels depicting Garfield’s life were created by Casper Bubel.
The cemetery takes its name from the view that can be seen at the top of the memorial – all the way to Lake Erie on a clear day.
The tragic nature of James Garfield’s death prompted the people of Ohio to raise the money – over $135,000 – to build this monument, which was dedicated in 1890. Both James and Lucretia Garfield are interred in the crypt, and their daughter and son-in-law are interred nearby.
The American Heroes Monument
Another memorial to note is more recent – The American Heroes Monument.
This memorial is a tribute to the Americans who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001.
The World Trade Center towers, a piece of steel from the rubble, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, PA are all part of the memorial, as are the words of then-President George W. Bush. A solemn experience, The American Heroes Monument nonetheless reminds us of the sacrifices others have made on our own soil so that we may be free.
The Schofield Mausoleum
A Mausoleum visit has not been top of my list ever, really. This one, however, might just be different.
The Schofield (or Scofield, depending on who you ask) Mausoleum at Lake View Cemetery is just about as lavish as one could imagine a mausoleum to be.
Levi T. Schofield was a civil war veteran and a renowned architect. His work can still be seen throughout Ohio to this day, as the popular Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Mansfield Reformatory a.k.a. the Shawshank Prison and the Athens Insane Asylums were designed by this famed, and well known in his day, architect.
It is fitting, then, that his final resting place should be a grand as his ideas were, and it is.
The Haserot Angel
The next “Memorial” has been turned into something of a tourist attraction simply due to the passage of time. What started out as a simple statue has turned into one of the most recognizable symbols of any cemetery in Ohio; The Haserot Angel.
Originally made of bronze, time has made this “Angel of Death Victorious” look as if she were crying black tears.
She is placed above the graves of Francis Haserot and his family and is meant to be holding a torch turned on end and extinguished. This angel and other graves lure Ghost Hunters from around the world to see what other-worldly spirits they might be able to find on the premises.
Wade Memorial Chapel
While most people wouldn’t think to get married in a cemetery, the Lake View Cemetery actually sees quite a few nuptials. Most of them take place in the Wade Memorial Chapel a memorial to Jeptha Wade himself. Wade is credited with founding the Western Union Telegraph Company and was the first president of Lake View Cemetery. The interior of the chapel was 100% designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the renowned stained-glass artist.
Believe it or not, Wade Memorial Chapel is actually a very popular place to get married and is often closed on weekends for that very purpose. Or for a funeral. Because, you know, #cemetery.
Notable Gravesites in Lake View Cemetery
That’s, right, you can’t throw a stick in this place without disturbing the immortal slumber of some once-famous person or another. Of the over 100,000 graves housed within Lake View Cemetery’s borders, here are just some of the names you may know:
John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller was the first billionaire in the US.
This immensely successful businessman is often mentioned as the original “American Dream” success story.
Photo credit: Tonya Prater The ashes of Eliot Ness aren’t buried with his tombstone but instead were sprinkled in Wade Lake.
Eliot Ness is credited with helping to bring down Al Capone in Chicago in the 1930s. Unfortunately, the stress of finding and bringing a known mobster to justice proved too much for Eliot Ness, as he died from a massive heart attack at age 54.
Ray Chapman, a Cleveland legend who played shortstop for the Indians, has the unfortunate honor of being the only person to be killed in a Major League Baseball game who died twelve hours after being hit by a pitch to the head.
Surprisingly, his death led not to the introduction of batting helmets, but to the bettering of sanitation within baseball, and the banning of spitballs.
Alan Freed is a Cleveland native, and credited with creating the term “Rock and Roll”.
He was a disc jockey in Ohio the 1950s and took the combination of blues, ragtime, jazz, and many other genres under the umbrella of “Rock and Roll” – coining the term. He, unfortunately, got caught up in the many scandals in the recording industry in those days and found himself out of several jobs.
He ended up dying of cirrhosis of the liver in Palm Springs, CA, at age 44.
Zelma W. George
Zelma W. George was a political powerhouse, philanthropist and musician in and around Ohio. She attended college in the 1920s, which was almost unheard of for an African-American woman at that time.
She went on to study, write and perform music until she became interested in politics in the 1930s and 1940s. She served as an advisor to President Eisenhower and remained an active voice for the empowerment of minorities up to her death in 1994.
Carl B. Stokes
Carl B. Stokes made history as the first Mayor of a Major American City (Cleveland) who was African-American.
His career also included many other notable events, as a TV News award-winning anchorman, a United States Ambassador, and numerous civilian honors bestowed upon him by politicians.
As I mentioned before, my husband and I aren’t usually up for the “normal” tourist destinations. We try to find the most obscure feature we can and then go off the beaten trail to get there.
Lake View Cemetery is just too much to pass up for us. Yes, there may be more people there than we would like, but with 285 acres to explore, we’re bound to find something no one else has seen in a long time!
Maybe we will find a piece of movie prop left over after the Captain America: Winter Soldier crew packed up and left? Or maybe we will find a gravestone no one knew existed?
Whatever we find, and whenever we go, I know that there will be plenty of Wild and Wonderful Reasons to Visit Lake View Cemetary to bring back with us.
This blog is full of articles about the roadside attractions we’ve found across the country and I even have a post which highlights many of the roadside attractions in Ohio, including some that are mentioned above.
Things to Know Before You Visit this Famous Cleveland Cemetery
1. Lake View Cemetery is an active cemetery which means burials still take place today please be courteous and respectful at all times. You can view the current burial schedule here or by calling the cemetery.
2. Lake View Cemetery is free to visit. Guided tours are available of the Garfield Memorial and Wade Chapel for a small fee on select dates.
3. Lake View Cemetery offers educational talks, tours, and concerts. You can view them and register here.
4. There are restrooms available in the cemetery. You’ll find facilities in the Garfield Memorial and also near the front of the cemetery near Euclid Avenue.
5. The cemetery is massive and it’s easy to get turned around. Stop in the office for a Lake View Cemetery map of the grounds before you get started.
6. You can walk throughout the cemetery but if you plan to see many of the monuments and memorials, it’s probably best to drive. You’ll find plenty of parking available throughout the property.
Visitor’s Information for Lake View Cemetery Cleveland
Address: 12316 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland
Lake View Cemetery Hours: Current summer hours run from April 1st to October 31st and are 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Winter hours are November 1st to March 31st from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. but refer to the website for updates throughout the season.
Where to Stay
The Tudor Arms Hotel by DoubleTree provides a touch of stylish sophistication a short walk from the city’s top cultural sites along Cleveland’s Wade Oval Circle and is only a short drive from Lake View Cemetery.
Located in the heart of Wade Oval, the Glidden House boutique hotel is the perfect hotel for those looking for a romantic getaway in Cleveland.
The Holiday Inn Cleveland Clinic is another option for those who enjoy a hotel with a proven track record but don’t want to spend a fortune.
My favorite place to stay in Cleveland, though a bit further away, is the Drury Plaza Hotel Downtown Cleveland. This property is the former Board of Education Building and is located downtown and in walking distance to the Rock Hall, monuments downtown, great food and more. PLUS, guests are provided free meals and drinks (think wine and cocktails) and so much more! A great value- especially when traveling with kids!
Check out our map below for a list of hotels & Airbnb’s near the Lake View Cemetery and book your getaway today!
Tours you May Enjoy
My love of tours is only overshadowed by my husband’s detest of all things guided.
- Explore the art and culture around Lake View Cemetery in this 3-hour walking tour.
- Little Italy may have the best food in the city and it’s an easy walk from the Cleveland cemetery. Explore on your own or take this tasty, history-based food tour of the Little Italy Neighborhood.
- No visit to Cleveland is complete without a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Buy tickets to the museum and take your tour and then stop by the cemetery to pay homage to the man who put Cleveland on the map with Rock and Roll.
What makes you most excited to check out Lake View Cemetery?
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