Finding President Garfield and Rockefeller graves at Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery

garfield-memorial-exterior

Some presidents get extremely modest final resting places. Others get elaborate tributes. The latter is the case for James A. Garfield. Despite serving just six months as chief executive in 1881 before falling victim to an assassination attempt, Garfield has one of the most spectacular memorials I have seen. It’s inside Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery, which also serves as the final resting place for several members of the powerful Rockefeller family and famous prohibition-era cop Eliot Ness.

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james garfield memorial

Dedicated in 1890, Garfield’s memorial is spectacular. It’s a 180 foot tall monument featuring Roman and Gothic architecture and intricate exterior panels depicting important moments in the life of the 20th president. The interior of the building features mosaics on the ceiling, stained glass windows, granite columns, and an impressive statue of the man.

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garfield-memorial-interior

Down in the lower level are the caskets of Garfield and his wife Lucretia, as well as the urns of their daughter and son-in-law. Garfield’s is the only presidential casket on full public display anywhere in the country.

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There’s also an upper level allowing visitors to see the memorial from above and to step out on the balcony and view the rest of the cemetery and the Cleveland skyline.

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cleveland-skyline

The Garfield Memorial has limited visitation hours – from 9 to 4, April through mid-November. There’s no charge to visit the cemetery or the monument.

A short walk from the Garfield Memorial are the graves of billionaire philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and several members of his family. The family obelisk is one of the tallest in the cemetery. Many visitors leave dimes at the site, in honor of Rockefeller’s habit of giving dimes to children.

rockefeller family graves

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This was probably the saddest grave in the collection: A Rockefeller infant who lived only one month and had apparently not been named.

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Elsewhere in Lake View Cemetery’s 285 acres are the graves of early American settlers, 22 former mayors of Cleveland, soldiers from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and more than 100,000 other people. Lake View is a must-visit in Cleveland if, like me, you’re fascinated by cemeteries.

lake view cemetery

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

5 comments on “Finding President Garfield and Rockefeller graves at Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery

  1. I also love wandering through cemeteries, although I usually prefer ones where someone famous is buried. But I must disagree with your claim that President Garfield’s coffin is the only one on full public display anywhere in the country.
    The burial vaults of John Adams and John Quincy Adams are on full display at the United First Parish Church in Quincy MA. And of course George Washington and Martha Washington’s coffins are on display at Mount Vernon.

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