Volunteer Fire Fighters’ Monument

Volunteer Fire Fighters’ Monument, 1864
Leonard Wells Volk
Rosehill Cemetery
East central section
5800 North Ravenswood Avenue

            Rosehill Cemetery was chartered in 1859 and is the oldest and largest (with 350 acres) non-sectarian cemetery in Chicago. It features the graves of more than twelve of the city’s former mayors, four Illinois governors and twelve Civil War generals. This monument was erected by the Firemen’s Benevolent Association six years after the city disbanded the volunteer companies and established a paid fire department in 1858. It marks the grave of 15 firefighters and was refurbished in 1979, including a new granite marker with a list of their names.
            The sculptor, Leonard W. Volk, set up a studio on Clark Street in 1858 and was responsible for two additional tall memorial shafts in Chicago, the Stephen A. Douglas Tomb and Memorial on the South Side and another in Rosehill Cemetery, the Civil War Monument known as Our Heroes. Volk is buried here as well, in the southeast section, and his monument shows him as if he is an old man resting during a walk in the country.
            A marble fireman holding a megaphone stands atop a Doric fluted column that emerges from a drum that takes the form of a coiled fire hose. The four corners of the base feature limestone replicas of wooden fire pumps topped with firemen’s hats. Three of the relief panels below the coiled hose depict hand-pumped fire engines and the fourth, badly damaged, shows a fire-fighting scene. 

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