Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Walter A. Frey Funeral Home Then and Now

I ran across this ad for Walter A. Frey Funeral Home in a 1945 Lorain telephone book. The photo caught my attention, since I drive by the building at 700 West Erie Avenue near Lorain City Hall almost every day. So I figured it was a good candidate for the 'then and now' photo treatment.

Walter A. Frey Funeral Home has been a Lorain business since the early to mid-1940's. A 1942 city directory still included its predecessor, Royce Funeral Home, but by 1945 it had acquired its present well-known and respected name.

Walter A. Frey Sr. passed away on January 27, 2002.

The 1945 phone book indicated that there was a church at 600 West Erie Avenue, between the funeral home and City Hall. But the church, along with the original City Hall, are long gone.

The Lorain County Auditor's website indicates that the building dates back to 1870, making it a true survivor in a downtown that doesn't have a lot of really old buildings, thanks to the 1924 tornado and urban renewal.

I photographed the building a few weeks ago on a sunny Saturday morning. As you can see, there have been a few architectural and landscaping changes, including enclosing the porch. The addition to the west end of the building has brought it literally up against Pete's Repair next door.


Anonymous said...


Was the building always a funeral home?

Dan Brady said...

That's a good question--I guess I'm going to have to do some research! I kind of doubt it, only because it dates back to the 1870's, which coincides with the house that later became the original City Hall. That house was considered a mansion, so I'll bet this one was too--especially if you compare it to Admiral King's birthplace which also dates from that same era, roughly.

Next time I'm at the library, I'll take a look in the oldest city directory and see what I can find.

Dan Brady said...

Okay, Jeff! I have the answer!

The house at 700 West Erie was a private residence until around 1924. A Mrs. Elizabeth Lewis lived there from at least 1912 until 1921.

Apparently right next door at 600 West Erie was the Parkside Chapel, home of the Wickens undertaking business. When Wickens moved out around 1921, Fey & Royce Undertakers moved in. Around 1924 that firm (now called Sidney B. Royce Company) moved into 700 West Erie and became Walter A. Frey Funeral Home around 1943.

When Royce moved out of the Parkside Chapel, it became the First Church of Christ Scientists. You can see a little of it in the Walter Frey ad.

Anonymous said...

Cool...thanks a lot Dan!!!

Hoy hoy,


Anonymous said...

I believe that the Frey Funeral Home was once the home of George Wickens. Mrs. Elizabeth Lewis was his daughter. His funeral chapel was built next door and later became the First Church of Christ Scientiests.