The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Who is buried in Couch's tomb?

I remembered that Chicago used to have a cemetery at what is now the south end of Lincoln Park, near State and North. But I never connected the dots that a small building over there actually had dead people in it:

In 1869 Chicago City Cemetery was taken over by the Lincoln Park Commissioners for conversion to a park. The bodies were transferred to Graceland, Rosehill, and other graveyards. The Catholics also vacated their cemetery, using the land for a new archbishop’s residence.

One story says that the Couch family fought removal of the tomb all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won its case. However, nobody has found any documentary evidence of such a decision. Perhaps the mausoleum is still there because neither the park commissioners nor the Couch family wanted to pay for tearing it down. That’s the kind of explanation that makes sense in Chicago.

After decades of neglect, the park district renovated the Couch tomb in the 1990s. The shrubs were cut down and the limestone structure itself was repaired. Now a spotlight illuminates it at night. The civic embarrassment has become a point of civic pride.

My city has a lot of history, even though the first settler got here so recently his house would be considered "new" in most of Europe.

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