Rising out of the same wilderness as Chicago itself, the Oak Woods Cemetery Association was organized in 1853 by a group of the city’s leaders. Today, it is one of Chicago’s most widely known and respected institutions. Previous to the time when Oak Woods Cemetery was incorporated, most burial places were churchyards or small plots adjacent to cities or towns. The nine men who organized Oak Woods secured the services of Dolph Strauch, foremost landscape architect and designer, and the foundation was laid for the conception of a cemetery capable of development into a beautiful park with wide lawns and winding roads.
On February 12, 1853, the Illinois State Legislature granted a special perpetual charter to the Oak Woods Cemetery Association. One of the few cemeteries to be so organized and operated by virtue of a Special Legislative Act, its charter guaranteed a permanent resting place for all those who would find peace for evermore among its wooded, lake-studded acres.
As many Chicagoans dreamed of their city becoming one of the greatest seaports of the world, Oak Woods Cemetery dreamed and planned for a truly impressive mausoleum, worthy of inclusion among the greatest structures of its kind. When the St. Lawrence Seaway was opened in the spring of 1959, one of the first ships to pass through it (on the Port of Chicago) brought 100 tons of Portuguese Marble for use in constructing the cemetery’s now impressive Tower of Memories.
Oak Woods continues to evolve while remaining quiet and serene. We go about our business of faithfully serving Chicago as we have so capably since 1853. Conveniently located, it is easily reached by all modes of transportation, in all kinds of weather.