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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history

9. Landscape architecture and planning,   pp. 165-176

Page 166

In 1901, the Mt. Olivet Cemetery Association erected a small Romanesque Revival-style
chapel, known as the "Little Chapel on the Hill." By the mid-twentieth century, the chapel
had fallen into disrepair; in 1969, a private donation allowed for its renovation. One of the
distinctive features of the little building is a replica of Michelangelo's Pieta. ("Mt. Olivet's
Little Chapel Dedication Sunday," RCHS files)
In the mid-twentieth century, entrepreneurs opened a for-profit cemetery at what was then the
northeast outskirts of the city. Located along Milton Avenue (2200 Milton Ave.), Milton Lawns
Memorial Park was started in 1932 with 25,000 burial spaces. By the mid-1970s, about half of
the burial spaces had been taken. Milton Lawns was landscaped in the sparse memorial park
style popular in the twentieth century: it features sweeping lawns interrupted by only a few
trees. No tombstones are allowed in the cemetery; instead, small bronze plaques mark the
graves. As the Milton Avenue area filled with commercial and residential construction, Milton
Lawns became land-locked. Without land to expand, the cemetery owners in 1976 constructed
"The Garden of Eternal Love Mausoleum," with space for 380 crypts and 64 cremation niches. It
has been expanded over the years. (Landers, RCHS files)
Janesville's cemeteries represent three important phases of cemetery design and construction.
Oak Hill and Mt. Olivet, with their romantic chapels, were established and planned during
the rural park design era. Milton Lawns was built during the popularity of the memorial park
in the for-profit era, and its decoration, or lack thereof, reflects the design trends of twentieth-
century cemeteries. The historic resources of Oak Hill and Mt. Olivet have not been adequately
surveyed. It is recommended that such a survey take place in order to assess what parts, if any,
of these old cemeteries might be eligible for the National Register.
Ordinarily, the National Register prohibits graves or cemeteries from being listed, except if
they have architecturally significant structures or an historic landscape design. The older
sections of both Oak Hill and Mt. Olivet cemeteries are potentially individually eligible for
the National Register because of their historic structures and landscape plan. Additional
information is needed to more accurately determine the exact areas of the cemeteries that
might be eligible.
The Plan for Planning
In 1982, the City of Janesville's planning department prepared a report on the city planning
process. In this report, the authors presented a brief overview of the history of city planning in
America. This discussion from The Plan for Planning is presented here in its entirety.
"Introduction and Historical Background
There is nothing novel or recent about city plans. As far back as the 5th Century B.C., plans had
been prepared for several cities in Greece. Throughout history, plans have been developed and
implemented for cities in Europe, Asia, and America. In the United States, four specific periods
of planning can be identified. Each of these phases has resulted in a shift in the emphasis of
the planning function, as planning activities have become an increasingly important function of
Period One: Colonial America
Early plans for Colonial American towns, such as Williamsburg, Philadelphia, and
Washington were mostly architectural blueprints for the future cities. These plans started
with the bare site and were commissioned by a central authority that had the power to carry
Landscape Architecture and Planning

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