Last week, I shared Part I of my visit to Chicago’s historic Rosehill Cemetery. I featured some of the stunning stained glass in the mausoleums and told the story behind the elegant Horatio May Chapel.
After exploring the outside of the May Chapel and its unique receiving vault, we wandered over to one of the largest mausoleums in the cemetery. The Adam Schaaf Mausoleum is guarded by two distinctive lions. I knew I wanted to find out more about him and his family.
Adam Schaaf was born in 1849 in England and made his way to Chicago around 1870. Soon after, he married Karolina Gall, whose sister had married Adam’s distant cousin, John Schaaf. Adam worked for John and his brother (piano manufacturers) but only stayed a few years. Adam eventually began selling pianos out of his own home.
Adam’s success came slowly but it did come. Unlike other dealers, he capitalized on newspaper advertising to bring in business. He opened his own store but went even further in 1893 when he opened his own piano factory. When fire destroyed the showrooms in 1896, he rebuilt and his success only increased.
Adam’s sons, Fred, Harry and Walter, joined him in the business. They were instrumental in expanding its reach and in time, Schaaf pianos were being sold all over the country via agents.
Sadly, Adam’s last years were full of turmoil. With expansion and new factories came labor problems and a number of strikes (some violent) took place. Union demands were lengthy and often contentious. He died in July 1902, leaving the business to his sons to handle.
The stained glass inside was beautiful but I couldn’t get any good photos of it. But the lions were easy to photograph.
There are also lion details on the mausoleum itself.
Unfortunately, the 1930s brought an end to the Schaaf family’s piano business. But the Schaaf mausoleum is a beautiful reminder of the success they once knew. Karolina is buried inside along with their son, Walter.
Another striking mausoleum at Rosehill is located further into the cemetery. The Louis Stumer mausoleum is hard to miss due to the kneeling figure of a young woman that is part of the front door. I did not get a good overall photo of it, so I am borrowing one by Sid Penance on Find a Grave.
Louis M. Stumer’s mausoleum is definitely one of a kind. The young woman on the front was sculpted by Czech-American artist Mario Korbel. Photo by Sid Penance.
Stumer published three literary magazines, The Red Book, The Blue Book and The Green Book. He also owned (or co-owned) a store, Emporium World Millinery, in Chicago. The nature of his magazines seem to have been on the more sensational side than high prose/poetry.
The kneeling figure at the door of the mausoleum is hard to forget. She was sculpted by Czech-American artist Mario Joseph Korbel (1882-1954), a native of Osik, Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). His work can be found in a number of cemeteries and art galleries. Stumer died in 1919 so the Art Deco style used by Korbel is in keeping with the time.
As I’ve noted in previous posts, I am continually fascinated by feet in cemetery statuary. Korbel’s work is no exception. But her hands are equally detailed.
You can’t help but linger on her face as well, especially the long lashes against her cheek.
Across the way from the Stumer mausoleum is Rosehill’s huge mausoleum. It’s probably the largest one I’ve seen except for perhaps Westview’s. The building was locked up tight so we could only photograph the outside.
Here’s a side view.
As you can see, if you look at it from the side, the vast size of the place becomes apparent. The front is an impressive Greek Temple style.
The carving above the doorway is in keeping with the Greek theme.
Dedicated in 1914, the Rosehill Mausoleum was designed by architect Sidney Lovell, who is himself entombed within. The interior is almost entirely of marble, with even the floors composed of Italian Carrara marble.
According to Graveyards.com, the Rosehill Mausoleum has two levels, with the lower level partially underground. Some areas, particularly in the west wings, consist mainly of large rooms or corridors lined with crypts. In the eastern side, there are several small private rooms owned by individual families, most with heavy bronze gates. Some have spectacular stained glass windows by Louis Tiffany and other artists.
Notable people interred inside are Chicago Mayors Richard Ogilvie and Dwight Green, A. Montgomery Ward and Richard Warren Sears (both of catalog fame) and John G. Shedd (second president and chairman of Marshall Fields department store). Shedd donated $3 million in 1927 to help found Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium (which we visited during our stay).
Cemetery lore states that the ghost of Richard Sears haunts the mausoleum. Some have said they’ve seen a tall man in a top hat within Sears’ locked room, walking toward the crypt of A. Montgomery Ward. These two giants of the mail order business are interred very near one another so considering they were fierce rivals, I wonder if they have verbal sparring matches.
Fortunately, I was able to get a photo of the front hall through the door so you can get an idea of what it looks like. My apologies for the poor quality of it. The features and proportions are supposed to be modeled after the Parthenon at Athens, where similar columns lead to an enormous statue of the goddess Athena.
Not far from the Mausoleum is a small Jewish section marked with a stone.
I took a few photos of graves and came upon this one. It looked much older than it actually was. You can make out the words “Forever Over The Rainbow” and that got me intrigued. As I learned long ago, some of the smallest graves hold some of the most interesting stories.
An executive for Riverside Graphics in Chicago, Steve was married and had two daughters. After them, his great love was for the movie The Wizard of Oz and the books it was based upon. He was an enthusiastic collector of memorabilia and attended several conventions, where he made a warm and lasting impression on fellow collectors. A tribute page details his life here.
Time was running short so we started making our way back to the entrance when I caught sight of this distinctive monument.
Reclining on a divan is the figure of Mattie Swanson May, a young woman who died at the age of 20. Born to Swedish parents in Michigan in 1873, she married Harry May at the age 16. I don’t think Harry was related to Horatio May (of May Chapel fame).
Naturally, I had to get a picture of her feet!
But I think my favorite feature was her delicate hand touching a book.
The inscription on the base of the monument reads:
In sweet and loving remembrance of my wife Mattie M. May, Born Sept. 5, 1873 – Died July 13, 1893. She was an ideal woman and model wife.
From what little I could find, I learned that Harry May was a baker when he died in 1914 and it doesn’t appear that he remarried after Mattie died. His love for Mattie, despite the brevity of their union, may have been too deep to be replaced by another.
There are so many beautiful and unique monuments at Rosehill that I didn’t have a chance to see, such as the Frances Pearce statue of a young mother and her infant daughter. Or the statue of a little girl, Lulu Fellows. Those will have to wait for another day.
In the meantime, if you have find yourself in the Chicago area and are looking for a beautiful cemetery to get lost in, Rosehill is where you need to go. It sets a high standard for similar big city cemeteries to meet. You won’t regret it.
Next week, I hope you’ll join me for one last Chicago cemetery, Graceland, which is equally spectacular.
Just be aware that Elvis isn’t there. 🙂
Barb Huyser said:
As I mentioned in your previous post, I went with a group on a walking tour of Rosehill Cemetery about 25 years ago. The historian who conducted the tour told us about the sightings of the ghost near the Sears section of the mausoleum. More interestingly, he talked about a dark shape that had been seen in different areas of the cemetery and even in the cemetery offices. He said that one had been seen by several staff and was particularly frightening.
Robert James Seeley said:
Your group of high-definition images of the Schaaf mausoleum is a treasured addition to Adam Schaaf scholarship. The story of his birth and youth in the low-income Tower Hamlets of East London intensifies his hard work and financial success in America. Soon it will be posted as “Adam Schaaf Pianos: London Origins” at Academia.edu.
Thank you for linking to “Adam Schaaf Pianos: Biography.” My wife’s childhood Adam Schaaf upright piano has been the inspiration for this research. The quality of design, materials, and workmanship of Adam Schaaf Pianos is attested to by several piano re-builders across the county.
May twenty-first-century arrivals in America find their prosperity here in this unique country where I was blessed to be born.
Links to images of the stained glass windows–glorious design, color, and spiritual message:
Bob, your research on the life of Adam Scaaf was invaluable to me when I was writing this. You truly are the source! So thank you for making my job so easy. I look forward to reading your upcoming work on Schaaf’s early life very soon.