“I am excited,” Greeley said.
The family-owned funeral home company is celebrating its 125th anniversary by turning what was once The Mountaineer printing press building into a multi-purpose event center for receptions, meetings, banquets and gatherings.
“It’s obviously to supplement our funeral home,” Greeley said. But “We are also doing this to give back to the community.”
The new facility is “a little look into the future,” Greeley said. Oftentimes, family members want to hang out together and perhaps enjoy a meal after a funeral or memorial service.
“Maybe it’s the first time that family has been able to get together — for the funeral,” Greeley said.
The center, which will include a small kitchen area for catered food and a 125-seat reception hall, will allow families to do that. The event center is a testament to the changing face of the funeral business, offering flexibility that an increasing number of people are seeking to have a non-traditional funeral service.
However, the facility, which will also include a small chapel, will be available for other events as well, such as wedding receptions, birthdays or family reunions.
Wells Funeral Homes has two locations, one in Waynesville and one in Canton, and employs 16 people full-time and 20 part-time. The number of employees may grow once the event center opens, Greeley said. The company will need someone to help manage that side of the business.
The old printing press building sits merely 11 feet away from the funeral home and will allow the company to grow without having to build onto its current Waynesville facility. The center is expected to open sometime next year.
The company purchased the building last year for $365,000. The building sat empty for a couple years after The Mountaineer started outsourcing the printing of its newspaper.