Lake View Cemetery was founded in 1869 and had its first burial in 1870. It sits on 285 acres of land landscaped in the fashion of English and French gardens of the Victorian era. Jephtha Wade, founder of The Western Union Telegraph Company, moved to Millionaire’s Row in Cleveland in 1856. At some point he decided he did not want to be buried in Cleveland. He found a piece of what was then farmland just outside of Cleveland that fit the bill for a new cemetery. There is a view of Lake Erie from the highest point, hence the name “Lake View.”
Jephtha Wade was an organizer and first president of Lake View Cemetery. Jephtha’s grandson had a memorial chapel built to honor his grandfather, and it was dedicated in 1901. The interior of the chapel was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The floors, benches, doors, wall mosaics, chandeliers, lamps, and ceiling were all designed by him.
(Exterior of Wade Chapel)
M and I went into the chapel where the docent told us quite a bit about the history of the cemetery and the chapel. I wish I had taken notes. I’ll do the best I can from memory (meaning the blame for any mistakes in this information goes to me, not the docent).
The mosaics on the walls and floor are incredible. Many of the Italian stonemasons, artisans, and gardeners hired to work on the chapel and the cemetery decided to stay in Cleveland and formed Little Italy which is nearby.
The Tiffany window was originally designed to go to the World’s Fair in France. Wade’s grandson wanted the window so it was agreed that Tiffany would display it at the World’s Fair and then bring it back to Cleveland for use in the chapel.
The mosaics, made entirely of stained glass tiles, are based on the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The west wall symbolizes the prophecy and laws of the Old Testament with its representations of some of the prophets. The east wall symbolizes the fulfillment of the prophecies through the birth of Jesus with representations of saints. One of the guys who worked on the mosaics feared he wouldn’t be remembered for or associated with the work done in the chapel so he represented himself by including four saints from the British Isles in the east wall mosaic . (I’m assuming — and if the docent mentioned it, I don’t remember — the chap was from somewhere in the British Isles.) Unfortunately, I don’t remember the man’s name although the docent did talk about him and give us his name. (Ironic, I know.)
The benches in the chapel are made from cedars from Lebanon. Tiffany put his mark on the benches, the doors (in front and in the back of the chapel) in the form of a rosette. The rosettes on the benches are made from glass.
(One of the rosettes on the windows at the back of the chapel.)
The front doors of the chapel are made of bronze and weigh 2 tons each. They are hung well. A small girl, around age 8, was able to close and open one of the doors with just a little effort.
Louis Comfort Tiffany tied it all together with wave patterns along the walls and the outside of the floor tiles. The pattern on the floor is Egyptian and symbolizes good luck and good fortune on your journey.
(Floor tiles in Wade Chapel.)
That pretty much depletes my store of knowledge about Wade Chapel. The docent had many more tales to tell, especially regarding the wall mosaics and the story they represent, so if you’re in the area, stop by. They’ll be delighted to share what they know.
I’ll be back (hopefully tomorrow) with more on the famous residents of Lake View Cemetery as well as photos of some of the sculptures.