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Sidney Lovell an American Architect

1867 - 1938

This brief biographical excerpt of the life of Mr. Lovell comes from the information provided by Mr. Lovellís great granddaughter, Barbara Coy Janssens. The information was compiled by her in 1990 and submitted to The Theatre Historical Society of America, for publication in their trade magazine, MARQUEE, Vol. 35, No. 2, Second Quarter 2003.

Sidney Lovell was the sixth child born to Louisa M. Knill and Philip Lovell in Racine, Wisconsin on February 26, 1867. His parents immigrated from England, arriving in America in 1845 and settled in Wisconsin. Sidney's father died on July 12, 1873, when Sidney was just six years old.


In 1882, Colonel James M. Wood arrived in Racine, Wisconsin for the grand opening of the Blake Opera House in which he was the architect. Colonel Wood was a recognized Chicago architect who specialized in the designing of theatres. It was at this time that Sidney met Colonel Wood, and when the Colonel, left Racine for his next theatre project at Wausau, Wisconsin in 1883, Sidney Lovell went with him.

After the theatre project in Wausau was completed, Colonel Wood and Lovell traveled to Chicago and found work at Scenic Studio. It was during this time period that Sidney Lovell studied architecture, and passed an architectural examination. A news article in the RACINE DAILY JOURNAL dated August 10, 1885, states "Sid Lovell, now a full-fledged architect in Chicago, spent Sunday with his mother."

During 1885 to 1888, Wood and Lovell traveled from Michigan to California, designing and remodeling opera houses. Upon the completion of the remodeling of the Grand Opera House in California, Mr. Lovell was taken in as a partner, and the architectural firm of Wood and Lovell was established, with an office in San Francisco. This partnership produced between 1888 and 1893 many fine examples of theatres in the East Indian style of architecture.

In 1893, the firm of Wood and Lovell relocated their offices to the newly built Ellsworth Building at 537 S. Dearborn Street in Chicago, Illinois. Their interest in theatre design continued with great success and many fine examples were produced. With the passing of Colonel Wood in 1903, Sidney Lovell continued the work of designing theatres and single family homes in the community of Beverly Hills in Chicago and outlying areas.

In 1912, Mr. Lovell was approached to design a mausoleum for Rosehill Cemetery at 5800 N. Ravenswood in Chicago. He was asked to design a building that would show security and permanency for the entombed 'loved ones.' Mr. Lovell did as he was asked and the mausoleum crypt spaces were easily sold.

A few of the Chicago businessmen that purchased crypt space in the newly built mausoleum were: John G. Shedd, president of Marshall Field & Co., A. Montgomery Ward of Montgomery Ward & Co., Wesley Dempster, principal owner of Rosehill Cemetery, Charles A. Stevens of Chas. A. Stevens & Bros., Warren Wright, president, Calumet Baking Powder Co., Charles M. Kittle, Pres., Sears, Roebuck & Co., and the list could go on with more names of the Chicago area businessmen who purchased crypt spaces within the Rosehill Mausoleum.

With the success of the Rosehill Mausoleum, Mr. Lovell stopped designing theatres and started exclusively designing mausoleums. Another major change was taking place in the firm, that being the addition of another Lovell. Sidney's son, Marion McDonald Lovell, became a partner in the 1920's when he returned from World War I in 1922. Marion, or Don as he was known, graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois with a degree in architect design.

The firm of Lovell and Lovell was very successful and managed to survive the depression years. The trade magazine, The American Cemetery, March 1931 featured an article titled, "The Work of Lovell and Lovell, Architects." In the article it was stated, Lovell & Lovell in this class of architecture has provided their services to fifteen States in the Union, with the result that they have designed forty-three of the finest, largest and most successful mausoleums to be found anywhere. After this article was published Sidney Lovell traveled to Italy to supervise the marble cutting and construction of a mausoleum with chapel for Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He had the mausoleum built in Italy, dismantled and shipped to Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery.

By the mid-1930ís the architectural firm of Lovell and Lovell had designed more than forty mausoleums across the Midwest and southern parts of the country. The state of Illinois was represented with examples in Astoria, Bloomington, Chicago, Decatur, Dixon, Edwardsville, Jacksonville, Pekin, Peoria, Sterling, and Sycamore. Missouri, displayed three mausoleums in St. Louis and one in Kansas City. Two were built in the Cleveland vicinity, along with the cities of Defiance, Napoleon, Piqua, and Youngstown representing the state of Ohio. The state of Pennsylvania saw one in Allentown and Pittsburgh. Kansas, had mausoleums in Eureka, Hutchinson, Independence, Salina, Topeka, and Wichita. The cities of Caro, Flint, Lansing, and Saginaw in the state of Michigan, also had an example of a Lovell & Lovell crafted mausoleums. In Texas, Amarillo, Houston, and Sherman each had a mausoleum. Two mausoleums were built in Oklahoma City and one in Blackwell also in the state of Oklahoma. Other states featured with examples were: South Bend, Indiana; Sioux City, Iowa; Norfolk, Virginia; Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Valhalla, New York; Camden, New Jersey; Miami, Florida and of course Minneapolis, Minnesota, featuring the mausoleum that had been build in Italy and then moved to the United States for reassembly. A number of these mausoleums would be on going projects, some requiring additions every few years, as was the case with the mausoleums in Chicago and Bloomington, Illinois, Miami, Florida, and Wichita, Kansas to name a few.

On August 6, 1938, Sidney Lovell passed away, at the age of 71. He had spent a lifetime designing theatres, homes and mausoleums. A person might have been born in a home or raised their family in a home that Mr. Lovell had designed. They might have gone to a theatre or danced the night away in a building designed by Sidney Lovell. They could have transacted business or visited a doctor's office in a building designed by the Lovell's, for some theatre buildings also contained office and retail store space. At the end of their life, they could have been laid to rest for eternity in a mausoleum designed by the firm of Lovell & Lovell.

Sidney Lovell left behind his wife, Jane; a son and business partner, Marion McDonald Lovell; daughter, Alice, their spouses and three grandchildren. He was laid to rest in the mausoleum at the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, the first mausoleum that he had designed in 1912.

View crypt photos in Rosehill Mausoleum


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Last modified:Thursday, 09-Mar-2017 09:14:09 MST