Waggener and Campbell Funeral Home

Courthouse Historic District

In 1905, James E. Waggener purchased the business of retiring undertaker Nelson Willoughby. At this time nationally, the mortuary business was in transition. Funerals in the previous century had traditionally been held in the home, and the undertaker provided such necessary accoutrements as casket, chairs, drapery, door badges, stationery, and flowers. After 1900, the home became less suitable for funerals, and the “funeral director” began to offer services in addition to goods. These included embalming, funeral arrangements, and transportation. Undertakers needed more space for laboratory facilities, casket sales, and reception services. In 1913, Waggener built this substantial brick building to replace Willoughby’s original two-room quarters at 134 West 2nd Street. The new building, constructed by local builder Caesar Haverlandt, offered a chapel with seating for sixty-five, a modern embalming room, up-to-date casket show rooms, and the area’s only receiving vault. Mahogany woodwork and sliding doors graced the family home upstairs; skylights, still in place today, brightened the kitchen and bathroom. Eventually the Waggeners’ three sons helped in the business and, in 1916, daughter Geneva married Harry H. Campbell who became a partner in 1919. The profession had its hazards, however. That year one of the Waggener sons, Elton, died from an illness he contracted while performing mortuary duties. Waggener and Campbell again moved to more modern facilities in 1929, and this building was converted for other commercial use. Architecturally typical of the 1910s, it is historically significant as an early Kalispell funeral home and pioneer family business.

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525 South Main Street, Kalispell, Montana ~ Private