In 1882, Colonel James M. Wood (1841-1903) arrived in Racine, Wisconsin for the grand opening of the Blake Opera House in which he was the architect. Colonel Wood was a recognized Chicago architect who specialized in the designing of theaters. It was at this time that fifteen year-old Sidney Lovell met Colonel Wood, and when the Colonel left Racine for his next theater project at Wausau, Wisconsin in 1883, Sidney went with him.
After the theater project in Wausau was completed, Colonel Wood and Lovell traveled to Chicago and found work at Scenic Studio. It was during this time period that Sidney Lovell studied architecture, and passed an architectural examination. A news article in the Racine Daily Journal dated August 10, 1885, states "Sid Lovell, now a full-fledged architect in Chicago, spent Sunday with his mother."
During 1885 to 1888, Wood and Lovell traveled from Michigan to California, designing and remodeling opera houses. Upon the completion of the remodeling of the Grand Opera House in California, Lovell was taken in as a partner, and the architectural firm of Wood and Lovell was established, with an office in San Francisco. This partnership produced many fine examples of theaters in the East Indian style of architecture between 1888 and 1893.
While working in San Francisco, Lovell met Jane Winters Bruner (1869-1953). Jane was the daughter of noted physician and surgeon William Happersett Bruner (1826-1886) and his wife Jane Winters Woodruff. Sidney Lovell and Jane Bruner were married in San Francisco on April 16, 1890. Sidney and Jane were blessed with two children: Marion McDonald Lovell (1895-1960) and Alice B. Lovell (1897-????)
In 1893, the firm of Wood and Lovell relocated their offices to the newly built Ellsworth Building at 537 S. Dearborn Street in Chicago, Illinois.
|537 S. Dearborn, Chicago|
Their interest in theater design continued with great success and many fine examples were produced. After Colonel Wood's death in 1903, Sidney Lovell continued the work of designing theaters and single family homes in Chicago and outlying areas.
Here's a mention in the Chicago Daily Tribune of May 23, 1897:
In 1912, Sidney Lovell was approached to design a community mausoleum for Rosehill Cemetery. Lovell related that he was asked to design a building that would show security and permanence. He had no experience designing mausoleums prior to this, but he decided that this was a challenge he wanted to tackle.
From the beginning, Lovell decided that the Rosehill Mausoleum would be better than all mausoleums built to date. He had a budget of $300,000 so only the finest materials would be used. One innovation would be that all interior surfaces would be marble - floors, walls, and even the ceilings. (It turned out that marble ceilings were not used until Unit 2 was built in 1919). And further, only the finest marble would be used. The original sections of the Rosehill Mausoleum are built of Yule Creek marble - the rarest and purest of all marble - and the most expensive. It is the same marble that was used for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Lovell spent $50,000 on the Yule Creek Marble alone. For more information on Yule Creek marble, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Marble
The Rosehill Mausoleum quickly came to be known as "The Westminster Abbey of America".
Ground was broken April 10, 1913.
Over the main entrance:
The three panels of the frieze along the facade:
and here's a copy of the explanation of the process itself:
For this, Lovell received Patent #1244109 on October 23, 1917.
I have looked inside empty crypts in the Rosehill mausoleum. If you didn't know it was there you wouldn't see it, but in the back of each crypt is the pipe Lovell talks about to allow gasses to escape, and dry air flow into the crypt. Before a crypt is used, the mausoleum attendant removes the cover from the ventilation pipe at the back of the crypt. It is done before mourners arrive, so people are not aware that it happens. I have also been in the basement of Unit 1 (the oldest section) at Rosehill. Extending down from the ceiling are literally hundreds of pipes, each that connect to a crypt. As long as Lovell's process is used, and there is a constant flow of fresh dry air into each crypt, "exploding caskets" are eliminated and any unpleasant smell is minimized.
Back at Rosehill, a major portion of Phase I was sold before ground had even been broken. The first phase had been so successful that on July 9, 1919 they announced that an addition to the mausoleum would be built:
Construction on Phase II started in May of 1920:
And the roof was in place by October 6, 1920:
A Second Addition to the mausoleum was announced October 12, 1923:
And in July of 1925, the "Central Unit" was announced:
They now referred to it as the "Mansion of the Silent."
The 4th Addition was announced November 3, 1929:
Rosehill ran weekly display ads like the ones shown above, all through the 1920s. They ran their last display ad on November 21, 1930. No ads were run until October 22, 1935, and that was to announce the 5th Addition to the mausoleum:
That was the only display ad run in 1935. It is surprising that in the depths of the Great Depression Rosehill was willing to put up the money to expand the mausoleum yet again. The Depression did affect their advertising budget however, because only one display ad was run in 1936, and no further display ads until May of 1942 announcing the 6th addition:
Here are the units at the Rosehill Mausoleum that Lovell was involved in, and the dates each was constructed:
Original Unit 1 April 10, 1913
1st Addition Unit 2 July 1919-1920
2nd Addition Unit 2 October, 1923
Central Unit Unit 3 July, 1925
4th Addition Unit 4 November, 1929
5th Addition Unit 5 October, 1935
6th Addition Unit 6 May, 1942
I bet you didn't know that the halls at the Rosehill Mausoleum had names. Here are the names of the halls on the main floor (Garden Level):
And here are the names of the halls on the ground floor (Terrace Level):
There was one mistake made with the construction, however. Whether it was Lovell's mistake (doubtful) or the management of Rosehill is not known. Here is a view of the mausoleum from above from Google Earth:
The areas below Unit 1 and above Unit 5 in the view above are closed in. They can only be reached from within the mausoleum by going down stairs and out a door, but there is no access from outside the mausoleum. It is, in effect, "dead space." The areas are let grow wild and every few years when the growth becomes too much, everything is cut down to ground level and the growth cycle begins again. If the management of Rosehill were smart, they would turn these areas into exclusive private burial gardens, along the lines of the enclosed "Gardens of Memory" at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. I have suggested this several times, to no avail.
Between 1912 and 1933, Sidney Lovell designed forty-nine mausoleums in the Midwest:
Sometime about 1924, Sidney Lovell's son, Marion McDonald Lovell (1895-1960) joined his father's firm, which was then know as "Lovell and Lovell."
From the very beginning, the private Family Memorial Rooms at the Rosehill Mausoleum were very popular with Chicago's elite. In the early 1960s, Rosehill published a pamphlet called "Cemetery and Mausoleum Facts." In the pamphlet was a list of "Owners of Memorial Rooms in Rosehill Mausoleum." Here is the list:
Sidney Lovell died on August 6, 1938 in Chicago from heart disease:
On August 8, 1938, Sidney Lovell was laid to rest in his greatest accomplishment - the Rosehill Mausoleum where he remains to this day. He rests in the midst of the beauty he created.
When theater architect Sidney Lovell was approached in 1912 by the Rosehill Cemetery Company, he was asked to design a community mausoleum that would show security and permanence. He did such a fine job that he went on to design at least forty-eight other mausoleums, as well as additions to the Rosehill Mausoleum. We are lucky that Lovell's talent is still around for us today to enjoy, and still exhibiting that same security and permanence.
Sidney Lovell - architect extraordinare - may he rest in peace.
I don't want to end this article without mentioning the accomplishments of Jane Bruner Lovell, the wife of Sidney Lovell. She was a championship Contract Bridge player. Under her professional name of Mrs. Sidney Lovell she won the Vanderbilt trophy in 1928 and the National Open Pairs competition in 1929. She is considered one of the truly great bridge players of her era. Jane Bruner Lovell died in 1953 and is interred next to her husband in the Rosehill Mausoleum.