WILMINGTON — Kevin Brown, the licensed director for a funeral home that opens Monday in Wilmington, said their work will include educating the public that it’s a new day in funeral service.
Many of the options that people can choose from, said Brown, they don’t think about or consider because they probably don’t know it’s available. But he and business partner Billy Arehart “want to be the progressive, open-minded funeral home that will try to do anything we can to serve a family in need,” said Brown.
An open house is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 9 between 4 and 8 p.m. at the historical 237 W. Main St. corner home known for a brick serpentine wall bordering the back yard.
In the near future the only crematory in Clinton County will operate on the premises, in what formerly was a three-car building.
The historical house was built in 1913. In making it into a funeral home, Brown and Arehart have tried to maintain the house’s integrity as much as possible, said Arehart, who is a great-nephew of the late Fred Murphy. Fred resided in the house with his wife, Maxine Harlan Murphy, who was born there.
The home has the distinction of having appeared in the magazine Better Homes and Gardens.
To facilitate the change in function, new wiring and new plumbing have been added, central air conditioning installed, and a couple walls taken out.
“We wanted to make it look beautiful and warm, and we also don’t want it to be intimidating,” Brown said. “A lot of funeral homes you walk into, they look like a funeral home.
“We wanted it to be kind of updated and look more modern, and again try to take away the old stigma of the old funeral parlor and make it more comfortable than that,” he added.
“Where people feel at home,” Arehart said.
Most of the furnishings are items from the Murphy Family, including a sampler made in 1832 and photographs of Murphy Family members intermixed throughout the rooms.
There is a bright kitchen area, where there will be coffee and bottled water in the refrigerator, Brown said.
“If people want to bring in cold cuts or snacks, we have this area back here for people to be able to have that, to sit around, or go outside in back,” he said.
There is an outbuilding in the back that will house a physical showroom of caskets, vaults and urns. But inside, in a room where the family meets with the funeral director, there will be a large screen monitor that will show examples of products — a virtual showroom.
Traditional funerals will be offered, but they also emphasize they are willing and able to be creative and do anything to personalize the services, said Brown.
As for the business side of the funeral home, Brown said it is going to be very moderately priced.
“We are positioning ourselves to be able to help every family in Wilmington and the surrounding area cost-wise,” said Brown. Arehart said they will take care of anybody from “all walks of life.”
The Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce will hold a formal ribbon-cutting at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 9. Light refreshments and pre-arrangement materials will be available at the open house that day.
The Murphy home has been given new life and direction, said Dessie Rogers, the executive director of the Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce.
Originally, the establishment will have the name Brown Funeral Home. Once the crematory is in place, signage will speak of the “Brown Funeral Home and Arehart Crematory located in historic Murphy House.”
For more information, please contact the Brown Funeral Home at 937-382-2247.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.