Indianapolis Journal

August 16, 1875

Crown Hill Cemetary Cathedral Illustration


A Quiet Resting Place and a Picturesque Park.

What a Stroll Through the Grounds Presents –
The New Chapel – View from the Summit of the Hill.

One of the strongest evidences of the domiciliary habits of a people is the pride taken by them in the conservance (sic) of the enclosure which is to become their final resting place. The visitor to the Crown Hill Cemetery cannot fail to be impressed with the beauty of conception and excellence of detail exhibited in the laying out and utilization of its groves, leafy dells and bluffs. On a hot summer afternoon, especially on a Sunday, when the masses, whose business avocations demand constant residence in the city, or whose pecuniary condition forbids the expense of a summer tour, there is rarely to be found more refreshing sights to dust-begrimed eyes than those met with whilst wandering through Crown Hill Cemetery. Visits to grave-yards are not usually of an invigorative nature, nor calculated to impress one with the great advantages of living. Especially disheartening is a tour through the old-fashioned church-yards of the Eastern cities, where the graves seem to huddle together as close as peas in a pod, and the loving remembrances paid to the departed friend seem to be shared in by the corpse of an unknown. A ramble through Crown Hill will leave a different impression on the visitor. Viewing the inclosure (sic) as a whole, it may be said that for beauty of situation, facility of access, and richness of improvement, Crown Hill city can favorably compete with the most renowned necropolises in the world. To obtain a favorable first impression, the visitor should enter at the eastern gate on North Illinois street, where he will receive an earnest of the beauties of nature beyond. The road from the east gate to the burial ground of the cemetery is an avenue embowered by trees of luxuriant foliage, and saving a slight deviation in its course at a distance of about a quarter of a mile from the gate, would lead a student of the English University of Cambridge into the belief that he was traversing the famous Trinity walk. For picturesqueness (sic) this avenue far transcends anything of the kind in this State.


At the end of the avenue is located the new chapel, which is rapidly approaching completion, at which time it may be claimed that it has no superior this side of the Alleghanies (sic). It stands about midway between the eastern and western entrances and a little to the northeast of the soldiers ground. The structure, occupying a space of about 75 feet square by 50 feet in hight (sic), is of Gothic style of architecture, and when complete will be surrounded by a neat grass lawn intersected by graveled walks. The outer walls of the chapel are built with the famous Elletsville stone, and the inner walls of Flatrock, both being two feet in thickness. Between the walls is a ventilating shaft through which a current of air passes sufficiently strong to blow out a lamp-light. The roof is partly stone and partly slate, and the beautifully-carved capitals surmounting every angle are grateful objects for the eye to rest upon. The interior, which is entered from the east through an elaborately-carved archway, contains a transept running north and south and bisected by a nave sixty feet long by thirty feet in width. The latter is intended for the chapel proper, in which funeral services will be conducted, and is capable of seating about one hundred and fifty persons. The floors are of marble tiling. At the west end of the nave space is reserved for a temporary vault for the use of Masonic and other societies in performing their particular burial services. The transept contains forty-eight shelves for the reception of caskets, having a capacity for one hundred and fifty bodies. The nave and transept are arched wit stone, and lighted by stained glass windows. On either side of the nave are six vacant niches set apart for statuary, space being reserved on the bases for suitable inscriptions. It will be noticed that the arrangements of the chapel will dissipate the usual damp and foetid (sic) smell usually a concomitant at funerals in small chapels, and will prove a great convenience to mourners in wet weather.


The grounds are nearly 400 acres in extent, about one-fifth of which has been improved and sold. All the improvements made are intended to be permanent. To the beauties of nature has been added all that art could suggest and contrive until every walk, lawn, and leafy dell presents a picture of ideal beauty. Instead of leaving the beautiful outside, the visitor actually has to leave the outside to obtain a glimpse of it. The cemetery has been arranged for a cemetery for the whole population. The rich man is not favored at the expense of the poor, nor the poor laid under the bonds of gratitude to the rich. Lots can be obtained at from $50 to $5,000, according to size, and the cheaper ones lie beside those costing the last named sum. One has the same advantage of location and scenery as the other. Even the poorest individual in the city is entitled to burial in as charming a portion of the grounds as his wealthier fellow-mortal, at a cost of eight dollars; a section being appropriated for such at the base of the southern slope of Crown Hill.


Any notice of this magnificent park would be incomplete without a mention of the panoramic view to be obtained from the summit of Crown Hill. To the Indianapolitan Marion County appears to be a flat and uninteresting tract of country. This opinion is, however, not generally shared in by the foot traveler who, like Goldsmith astride of Shanks’s mare, finds best enjoyment in seeking the beauties of nature in the fields and copses which environ most cities. An ascent of Crown Hill will disabuse the mind of anyone of the impression that we are living in a flat dish. To the southeast the city lies as in a valley, surrounded by forest, river and stream, and at every other point of the compass for a distance of probably fifteen miles can be seen bluffs and forest scenery worthy of immortalization by the artist’s pencil.

To a city which lacks the inestimable blessing of a people’s park, Crown Hill Cemetery is an incomparable substitute, and should become the resort of the living as it is of the dead. The cemetery superintendent, Mr. F. W. Chislett, desires it to be known that all respectably behaved persons can obtain admission on Sundays by application at his office on the grounds, or of Mr. George P. Anderson, the secretary, at his office, on South Pennsylvania Street.

It may be here stated that the laying out of the entire cemetery is the conception and has been accomplished under the supervision of the first-named gentleman, and entitles him to a place in the front rank of landscape gardeners, among them Sir Joseph Paxton, the designer of the famous Crystal Palace at Sydenham.

Indianapolis Journal
August 16, 1875