George Boom opens in expanded, modern space

March 1, 2018

George Boom Funeral Home & Crematory has opened in a new, larger space that allows it to better adapt to the changing ways people memorialize their loved ones.

It’s built on the existing 8-acre property at 3408 E. 10th St.

“I’m very pleased,” said Phil Schmitz, funeral director and the firm’s manager.

The new building is 2 1/2 times as big as the 53-year-old former building and allows for greater flexibility in arrangements.

“We can have a service for 450 people. We just had one for 400 people,” Schmitz said. “Before, we could fit 200 sitting in different rooms looking at a monitor.”

Air walls also subdivide the space, allowing the building to host up to five visitations at once.

The lower-level banquet room can seat 170 people – more than triple the previous space. There are large windows throughout the building and a deck that overlooks the adjacent Hills of Rest Cemetery. Outdoor services will be an option, too.

“Funeral homes in the past were built from the inside out,” Schmitz said. “Hardly any interior rooms had windows. It was dark and gloomy, and they were built in the ’60s because funerals were in churches and visitation rooms were small.”

At one time, visitations commonly lasted 12 hours, so people came and went throughout the small space during the day.

“The trend became to concentrate the time, so the family didn’t spend as much time at the funeral home,” Schmitz said. “So then you concentrate all these people in one spot at a given time.”

The funeral business also is adapting to changing tastes and cultures. Because fewer people belong to a specific church or practice a specific faith, more services are held at the funeral home. George Boom employs several staff members who work with families to deliver customized memorial services.

In some cultures, there’s a ritual bathing that occurs. That’s been built into the new George Boom.

“Now, they have a nice space and don’t have to go into our embalming room, where in the past we shut down operations for ritual bathing,” Schmitz said.

In other cultures, family and friends witness cremation. A viewing area has been designed at the funeral home.

“Some will bring 100 people to watch placement of remains into the crematory,” Schmitz said.

The building is designed to complement the style of the 19th century Arts and Crafts movement.

“All of the woodwork and colors are true to the period, interior and exterior,” Schmitz said

A highlight of the artwork features some of the last pieces designed by stained glass artist Ken Bird, who died in January. His designs for four pieces evoke the four seasons.

While he didn’t live to install the glass, his team finished the project.

Services have transitioned into the new building. The old one likely will be demolished fairly soon.

“I’m going to let some startup churches come in and take components that need different things, and police and fire want to do some training in there, so I’ll let them toward the end,” Schmitz said. “My goal is to have the building down and the base for a new parking lot in and compacted when the asphalt plants open in the spring.”

Plans also continue to move forward for a new retail center on the property. That’s expected to start construction in the spring.

George Boom opens in expanded, modern space

George Boom Funeral Home & Crematory has opened in a new, larger space that allows it to better adapt to the changing ways people memorialize their loved ones.

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