In Memory Of
Before we look at the mausoleum he built, let's see what we can find out about the man with the unusual name Street Lightfoot.
John Street Lightfoot was born Febuary 17, 1878 in Fort Deposit, Alabama to William A. Lightfoot (1828-1914) and Anne Elizabeth, nee McRea (1835-1902). William A. Lightfoot was a veteran of the Civil War, having fought for the Confederacy as part of McQueen's Regiment in the Alabama Calvary.
William Lightfoot had been married previously to Martha Eugenia, nee Dunn (1832-1868). William and Martha had two daughters: Lou E. Lightfoot (1862-????) and Martha Eugenia Lightfoot (1863-1919). After Martha's death William married Anne Elizabeth, nee McRea (1835-1902) on August 20, 1868. They had three sons: William A. Lightfoot, Jr. (1869-1952), Henry Robert Lightfoot, (1873-1944) and John Street Lightfoot (1875-1955).
The 1880 US Census shows the Lightfoot family living in Fort Deposit Alabama. William A. Lightfoot, Sr. listed his occupation as "Farmer". John Street Lightfoot was two years old. The 1890 US Census for that part of the country is lost, but the 1900 US Census finds the Lightfoot family living in Tampa, Florida.
William A. Lightfoot is retired; the rest of the family is in retail, Twenty two year old John Street Lightfoot lists his occupation as "Dry Goods Business."
On February 3, 1904, John Street Lightfoot married Jessie Estelle Gramling (1878-1966) in Hillsborough County, Florida.
Jessie Estelle Gramling was the daughter of William Edward Gramling (1849-1901) and Sarah Wellington, nee Reid (1853-1928). In addition to Jessie, William and Sarah Gramling had three daughters: Mary L. Gramling (1869-????), Ethel May Granling (1879-????) and Louise Gramling (1891-1896), and two sons: William Reid Gramling (1871-1941) and Antoine K. Gramling (1888-1965). Their father was a carriage maker by trade.
The 1910 US Census finds Street and Jessie Lightfoot living with her parents in Tampa, Florida. He has dropped the "John" from his name and now just goes by "Street Lightfoot". Street lists his occupation as "Real Estate."
By the time Street Lightfoot has to register for the draft in September of 1918, the Lightfoots have moved North. They are living at 4700 N. Winchester in Chicago:
|4700 N. Winchester, Chicago|
Street Lightfoor indicates his occupation as "Secretary" of the Irving Park Boulevard Cemetery. He was based out of their office in downtown Chicago - Suite 1848 in the Conway Building, on the SWC of Clark and Washington:
As the 1920s moved along, Street Lightfoot was restless. His work organizing and developing Acacia Park Cemetery was complete. The south side Masonic Cemetery he developed, Cedar Park, 97 acres at Halsted and 124 streets, was dedicated in October of 1924. He wanted to do something that would set Acacia Park apart from other Masonic Cemeteries. In January of 1925 he made his announcement - he would build a community mausoleum at Acacia Park.
The announcement came in the January 18, 1925 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune:
Chicago is to have one of the most magnificent mausoleums in the world - a solid marble, concrete and bronze structure - dedicated to Masons and their families.
Work has started on this impressive building which will stand in the center of the eighty-three acre Acacia Park cemetery, on the north side of Irving Park boulevard, extending from Phillips to Thatcher road, about a mile west of the city limits.
The $800,000 Acacia mausoleum was designed by R.G. Schmidt & Co., of Chicago, who were the architects of Medinah Temple, Medinah Country Club, and other Masonic temples throughout the country.
The building will have rooms for families, each one with bronze gates with the name of the owner; single crypts and columbariums, where cremated remains will be placed in bronze urns.
In the main part will be a high vaulted chapel. This chapel, as well as the mausoleum corridors and rooms will be carpeted and furnished with comfortable chairs, plants and soft lights. Carpets are an unusual feature of a mausoleum, according to Street Lightfoot, president of the Acacia Park Cemetery Association, and also the Acacia Mausoleum corporation.
Mr. Lightfoot, a Floridian, who has only lived in Chicago a few years, states that both the mausoleum and the cemetery are completely financed and no stocks or bonds are for sale.
"I believe it will be the only mausoleum in the world with an organ," said Mr. Lightfoot, "and I don't believe there is another mausoleum anywhere that will have as beautiful a setting as the Acacia. We're going to lay out a sunken garden 150 x 400 in front of it, with a marble fountain at each end, with cascades.
"We'll have $83,000 worth of bronze alone in the mausoleum. The exterior will be of silvery gray and the interior of white axed Georgia marble. We intend to have a complete ventilating system throughout the building.
"I feel safe in saying it is the only building of its kind dedicated to Masons. We hope to have it completed by fall."
Space in the mausoleum will be sold with a stipulation in the contract that it can be used only for Masons and their families and if anyone to be buried there is found, upon investigation, not to have been a Mason, the contract will be void.
A perpetual endowment fund, held in trust to be administered by the Union Trust company, has been established. The income from the fund, it is claimed, will be sufficient to insure perpetual care of Acacia Mausoleum for all time.
The new mausoleum at Acacia Park Cemetery was dedicated June 26, 1927:
Here's a photo from the dedication:
Street and Jessie Lightfoot must have divorced sometime during the 1920s because they remarrried in St. Joseph, Indiana on June 2, 1928. Unfortunately this was an indication of trouble ahead.
By the 1930 US Census things were looking up for the Lightfoots. They were renting an apartment at 3000 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago, for which they paid $200.00 per month rent. Jessie's mother had died in 1928 so she was no longer living with them, but Street's brother William Lightfoot was living with them. They also had a live-in servant, fifty-six year old Catherine Haage. Street Lightfoot listed his occupation as "Proprietor of a Cemetery."
|3000 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago|
In 1934, perhaps as an answer to the hard times being experienced all over the US, Street Lightfoot announced one more major project for Acacia Park Cemetery, a Crematorium/Columbarium. From the Chicago Daily Tribune of November 18, 1934:
|2256 Lincoln Park West, Chicago|
By 1940, Street and Jessie Lightfoot were divorced. I was not able to find Street Lightfoot in the 1940 US Census, but Jessie Lightfoot had taken an apartment by herself (and a live-in housekeeper) at 2335 N. Commonwealth Avenue in Chicago.
By the time Street Lightfoot registered for the draft in April of 1942 he had remarried. His second wife was Elsie Helen, nee Wiese (1903-1987). Elsie had also been married previously - to Ralph Chester Chilberg (1898-1943). Elsie and Ralph had a daughter, Charlotte (b. 1922).
Street, Elsie and Charlotte were living in a house that had been constructed on the grounds of the cemetery, at 4214 Ozanam in what had become Norwood Park (now Harwood Heights), Illinois:
|4214 N. Ozanam, Harwood Heights, IL|
Ultimately, Street and Elsie Lightfoot retired to Eustis, Florida but still ran the cemetery, at least on paper.
Street Lightfoot died in Eustis, Florida on July 29, 1955 at the age of 77. Here is is obituary and death notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune:
He is, of course, interred in the mausoleum he conceived and built:
As a tribute to Street Lightfoot, Founder and Builder, let's take a look around his beautiful mausoleum:
|Inside Bronze Front Door with Masonic Symbols|
|Family Rooms Line the Grand Entrance Hall|
|More Family Rooms|
|Looking Back Toward the Front Doors|
|Even the Light Fixtures are Works of Art|
|The Main Chapel|
|Hallway Off Chapel|
|Hallway Lined with Family Rooms|
|A Wall of Crypts|
|Guarding the Columbarium|
|Elevator Door to Upper Level|
|Ready for the Next Masonic Service|
|Architectural Details Abound|
Here is the only photo I have been able to find of Street Lightfoot: