This scenic park south of downtown Chicago is the burial place of distinguished statesman Stephen Arnold Douglas (1813-1861). The Douglas Monument Association was organized in 1861 to build a suitable memorial at the gravesite. In 1864 the Association adopted the design of Illinois sculptor Leonard W. Volk.
Construction of the 96-foot-tall granite structure was begun in 1866 and completed in 1881 Three circular bases are topped by a 20-foot diameter octagonal mausoleum. Inside, a Vermont marble sarcophagus holds Douglas’ remains, surmounted by a marble bust of the Senator. At the four main corners of the mausoleum, pedestals hold large bronze allegorical figures portraying “Illinois,” “History,” “Justice,” and “Eloquence.” Above the main base of the column are four bronze bas reliefs representing stages in “the advance of American civilization.” Atop the 46-foot column is a nine-foot bronze statue of Douglas gazing over Lake Michigan. The grounds surrounding the Tomb are landscaped with numerous trees and flower beds.
Open areas of the site can be visited at any time. During operating hours visitors may enter the Tomb and view the sarcophagus containing the Senator’s remains. Staff are available to provide information concerning Douglas and aspects of the Tomb’s history. The Tomb’s burial chamber is not accessible to persons with disabilities.
The Stephen A. Douglas Association co-sponsors special ceremonies commemorating Douglas’ April 23 birth and June 3 death on the Saturdays nearest those dates. Contact the site for details.
U.S. Senator Douglas’s Tomb State Historic Site can be reached by personal vehicle (including pedal-driven vehicles) or by Chicago public transportation. Douglas Tomb State Historic Site’s grounds are accessible on paved paths that lead from the 35th Street sidewalk through an entrance gate to the tomb’s monument, then encircle the tomb. The tomb’s towering monument is a large stone obelisk above an enclosed burial crypt that is surrounded by terraced monument stonework. The steps of the monument to the burial chamber offer handrails, but are not accessible to wheelchairs.
Parking - Limited street parking is available on 35th street for personal vehicles. Douglas Tomb State Historic Site has no public parking onsite. With prior arrangement with the Superintendent, visitors with disabilities may drive a small bus, van, or other vehicle with wheelchair lift or other accessible equipment through a motorized vehicle gate onto the State Historic Site’s residential cottage driveway, then up to the tomb’s monument.
Service animals are welcome at Douglas Tomb State Historic Site, however regular water fountains for service animals are not available, but a yard spigot for water is present in the southwest quarter of the grounds under large oak trees.
Tours - Guided tours of Senator Douglas’s tomb and the grounds can be arranged in advance by contacting the Superintendent. An average tour commonly lasts 30 minutes, but can be tailored to a visiting group’s preferences.