Cleveland Building Restoration and Bricklayers Local 5 Team up to Give Lake View Cemetery’s Stone a New Life

By Company 119

Rolling hills nestling two picturesque lakes, gorgeous buildings constructed by master craftsmen who built from stone to model structures in Europe, and winding roads weaving their way through a landscape filled with the changing colors of fall. Who would ever guess that these sentences are being used to describe a cemetery? Well, Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland fits this perfectly and, with the help of Cleveland Building Restoration and Bricklayers Local 5, they intend to breathe new life into some of the magnificent structures that adorn the grounds of this iconic landmark.

The Lake View Cemetery is the final resting place for some of Cleveland’s most renowned figures; from legendary mogul John D. Rockefeller and President James A. Garfield to famous “mob buster” Eliot Ness, the cemetery is home to the remains of some of the most influential Clevelanders ever. Some of those people left behind a tremendous fortune, and those fortunes were often used to create ornate mausoleums that mirrored some of the classic architecture that defined Cleveland’s bygone golden era. Unfortunately, Cleveland is also defined by its brutal winters and humid summers and those seasons have taken their toll on these incredible structures. Enter Cleveland Building Restoration.

Cleveland Building Restoration’s mission is to restore the beauty of Cleveland, brick by brick and stone by stone. Its craftsmen have worked on some of the most iconic buildings in the city, from the Downtown YMCA to the rooftops of the NASA Glenn Research Center. Restoring Cleveland’s splendor is part of many of the projects that Cleveland Building Restoration takes on, so when Lake View Cemetery reached out about getting some help with their mausoleum restorations, Cleveland Building Restoration was more than happy to oblige. Cleveland Building Restoration wanted to make it even more special by using it as an opportunity to give some additional training to future masons. 

PBS wrote an article on the emphasis on liberal arts that has been seen over the last decades and how students believe that a bachelor’s degree is needed to succeed in life. This thinking has caused vocational programs to take a major hit. Many see the work of welders, machinists, masonry workers, and others as something others look down upon, but statistics show that these jobs play an invaluable role in our society. Most workers with a vocational education are over the age of 45 and when retirement comes around, there will be a major need for young graduates to step into these roles. These important jobs require less schooling and often provide a steady and excellent income. 

Cleveland Building Restoration and Bricklayers Local 5 came together to allow Bricklayers’ apprentices to take on the project. Under the supervision of master masons, the apprentices learned from some of the best stone and brick laborers in the city, and they worked on some intricate facades in a setting that allowed them to take the time necessary to perfect some of their restoration techniques. Ten apprentices total, including one that is currently working for Cleveland Building Restoration, had the opportunity of a lifetime as they worked on these magnificent structures. 

When Morgen Cost, President of Cleveland Building Restoration, was asked about the project, she responded "Growing the path to the trades is something of great importance, as is maintaining the historic architecture of Cleveland. We are proud to partner with Lake View Cemetery in a project that brings together two very important issues. As a nation, there has been a lack of focus on the trades as higher education has been presented as the only path for our young people. The construction trades have been and continue to be a source of strength for middle-class America that cannot be outsourced. Getting our educators and student counselors to see the value in entering the construction trades will open up the path for more people to find success. Currently, the demand for skilled workers far exceeds supply. Couple that with an aging workforce, and the possibilities within the trades are tremendous. There has been a significant decline in the number of trained professional craftsmen and women, and we are hoping to drive an increase in new membership into the union trades through projects such as this one at Lake View Cemetery.” 

The Lake View Cemetery project allowed the young apprentices to have access to “real-world historic restoration” training while providing a service to one of Cleveland’s most historic sites with an added bonus of preserving and restoring some of history’s most notable architecture at the same time. As this is Lake View’s 150th anniversary, there are many opportunities for the citizens of Cleveland to enjoy the cemetery and history.

The public is invited to come to the cemetery to see the breathtaking renovations. Lake View Cemetery is located at 12316 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland and is open daily. See full hours here

Time Lapse Video

Morgen Cost's Interview with WKYC