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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 165

Landscape Architecture and Planning
Carol Lohry Cartwright
anesville's designed historic landscape encompasses the work of anonymous surveyors,
landscape architects, and planners. The city's cemeteries, parks, and various development
plans are the result of their work.
In the early nineteenth century, American cemetery design provided training for landscape
architects who designed park-like grounds that became catalysts for the mid-nineteenth-
century urban parks movement. America's first designed cemetery, New Haven's New Burying
Ground, established in 1796, was formal and orderly. The first park-like cemetery was Boston's
Mount Auburn, designed in 1831, which featured structures inspired by English gardens. By the
mid-nineteenth century, most urban communities had large cemeteries with park-like settings
created by winding roads, landscaped trees and bushes, and picturesque buildings. These
cemeteries were park-like, and pleasure driving and picnicking in them became a craze. By the
late nineteenth century, though, the trend in cemetery design had changed to the "lawn" plan,
which de-emphasized fences and structured ornamental plantings in favor of spreading lawns,
lakes, and monuments. After the early twentieth century, cemeteries increasingly eliminated
obvious landscape design in favor of functional memorial parks. (Tishler 1989:121-123)
There are three large cemeteries in Janesville, one public, one parochial, and one profit-
making. Early settlers established the first public cemetery in Janesville on the top of
Courthouse Hill (Jefferson Park). Burials were made there until 1851-1852, when it was
decided to move the cemetery to make room for the construction of the first Janesville High
School. The bodies were removed to the new Oak Hill Cemetery at the northwest edge of the
city. (Brown 1908:534-544)
The Oak Hill Cemetery Association was organized Jan. 8, 1851. The group initially purchased
20 acres of land at the northwest limits of the city; by 1879, the group had increased the
cemetery size to 56 acres and added a large mausoleum. The grounds were initially laid out in a
park-like manner, with wide avenues and plantings of omamental trees and shrubs to augment
the natural growth there. (Butterfield 1879:597-98)
Around the turn of the twentieth century, a Gothic Revival-style chapel, constructed of stone
and brick, was built in Oak Hill Cemetery. This chapel was used for funeral services until the
mid-twentieth century. In 1969, the cemetery association renovated the chapel; since that
time, it has been used as a gathering point for people attending funerals. Oak Hill Cemetery
(1725 N. Washington St.) continues to serve as Janesville's public cemetery. ("Renovated
Chapel Furnishes Warmth, Comfort to Bereaved," RCHS files)
Catholic residents established their own cemetery on 40 acres of land next to Oak Hill after the
Courthouse Hill cemetery was closed. Landscaped in the park style, the cemetery was
initially called St. Patrick's Cemetery, or simply the Catholic cemetery. When another
Catholic church was established in Janesville, the cemetery was renamed Mt. Olivet (1827 N.
Washington St.). Gradually Janesville's Catholics purchased additional land to increase the
acreage of the cemetery. (Montgomery, RCHS files)
Landscape Architecture and Planning

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