Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 412

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 412


This is the grave of Henry and Carrie Getty.

Henry Getty was a lumber capitalist. He’s not very interesting. There’s not even any significant information about him easily available, partly because any exploration of “Getty” online or in obvious sources brings you to a lot of other Gettys, such as J.Paul. These were just a couple of rich people. The entire reason for this grave post is the grave itself because of Louis Sullivan’s design. Henry’s hired Sullivan to build it after Carrie died. I don’t really have the language to write about architecture, so I am going to do what I would never allow my students to do is, which is to quote from Wikipedia, which seems to be one of the only real discussions of the grave’s significance.

The Getty Tomb has been said to be the most significant piece of architecture in Graceland cemetery and the beginning of Sullivan’s involvement in the architectural style known as the Chicago School.

The tomb, which stands on its own triangular plot of land, is composed of limestone masonry construction. Roughly a cube in shape, the bottom half of the tomb is composed of large, smooth limestone blocks. The upper half is composed of a rectangular pattern of octagons, each containing an eight-pointed starburst design. The cornice is banded with smooth limestone above intricate spiraling patterns below, and the top-edge of the roofline is straight and horizontal on the front and back and scalloped in a concave fashion on the sides.

When approaching the tomb, the obvious focus is the ornate doorway. An intricately ornamented bronze gate and door, patinated green over time, are spanned by a broad semi-circular archway. The voussoirs, emanating radially in long thin wedges, share alternating plain and intricately carved concentric bands. The twin gates as well as the door behind share a combination of geometric and floral details that incorporate the starburst seen in the upper patterned walls. The three other sides of the tomb house semi-circular, bronze-clad windows that mimick the arch and door details of the front. A plaster cast of the door was exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exhibition where it won Sullivan an award.

I didn’t really know what I was looking at when I initially took this photo, so here are a couple of other photos from that series of tubes called the internet:

Henry Harrison Getty Tomb at Graceland Cemetery, designed by Louis Sullivan, Chicago, IL

Henry and Carrie Getty are buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois.

If you would like this series to cover more timber capitalists, whose architecture will no doubt be a lot more boring than this grave but who will probably be more interesting to write about, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. A.B. Hammond is in Colma, California and John Henry Kirby, who was a truly terrible human being, is in Houston. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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