Keehn Funeral Home was founded in 1922 by Emil J. “E.J.” Keehn (D.O.B 3/23/1895 – D.O.D. 10/13/64). The funeral home actually began as a store-front located on the 400 Block of West Main Street, in Downtown Brighton. It was operated in the building where the Great Harvest Bread Company is currently located. In the early 1900’s, most funeral directors began as cabinet makers or furniture manufacturers. The Keehns were no different, operating a furniture store in addition to selling funeral merchandise. The furniture store was located on the first level of the store, while the funeral merchandise and caskets were located on the second level. All the funeral work was actually done in the deceased person’s home. The funeral director would come to the person’s home to complete the necessary preparation and the visitation was held in parlor of the deceased. The funeral usually took place at church.
With new innovations beginning and changes occurring within the funeral industry, Mr. Keehn had the current building at 706 West Main Street constructed. It was completed in 1932 and was built not only as a full-service funeral home, but also as a home for the Keehn family. One half of the upper level of the new building contained an area for the preparation of the deceased and a casket showroom. In the lower level there were “parlors” where visitation and funerals could be held. The other half of the building was the family home. In addition to running the new funeral home, E.J. Keehn continued to operate the furniture store downtown until 1954. He retired and sold the funeral home to his brother Carl F. Keehn, (D.O.B. 11/26/03 – D.O.D 12/12/77) in 1959. Before coming to Brighton, Carl had owned and operated a funeral home in Dexter, Michigan which is now the Hosmer-Muehlig Funeral Chapel.
In 1969 Donald R. Keehn (D.O.B 7/4/32 – D.O.D. 12/21/97) purchased the funeral home from his father Carl, and began some major renovations shortly thereafter. A house that was adjacent to the west side of the funeral home was purchased, torn down and became the current funeral home parking lot. The front vestibule area was added and the living quarters were converted into a first floor visitation area, and a back office. The upstairs living quarters became a funeral arrangements office A doorway was also created in the arrangement office to connect it to the existing upstairs casket selection room. The remaining two bedrooms and bath were converted into an apartment, which enabled Mr. Keehn to hire someone not only to work at the funeral home, but to live there as well. In 1986, Mr. Keehn undertook a major addition. Another chapel that was ramp accessible was added along with handicap assessable restrooms. In addition, a flower delivery area, coat room, and additional office space were created. The new chapel was connected to the building by way of the middle section of the existing building. By doing this, additional visitation rooms for overflow seating were created.
The Keehns provided Ambulance Service to the southeastern Livingston County area from its inception until January 1, 1970. This was done by using a vehicle called a combination (Hearse/Ambulance).
In August of 1995 Mr. Keehn sold the business to its current owners John and Laura Kelley. The Kelley’s had been long time employee’s of Mr. Keehn and at the time resided in the funeral home apartment. Since purchasing the funeral home, the Kelley’s have completed extensive remodeling of the chapels, arrangements office, casket selection room, vestibule, and preparation area. In 1999, the Kelley’s converted the apartment into a pre-arrangement office and staff lounge. They have purchased new automotive equipment, the most recent being an eight passenger limousine. In addition the Kelley’s have also computerized the funeral home, which has allowed them to streamline their operation and offer products and services to families which were previously unavailable or costly to obtain.
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