Public Invited To Attend Open House This Weekend

FRONT VIEW of the old Vorn« Inn on Vernon street which hi* been completely restored as the home of the Eastman Funeral Service, lnc„ of Norwood.

Norwoods century-old Verne Inn, which once graced the town’s main thoroughfare and was later moved to Vernon street to make way for the business blocks which sprang up on Washington street at the turn of the century, has been completely restored along period lines and now assumes a new role as the home of Eastman Funeral Service, Inc., of Norwood.

It is particularly fitting that a firm which dates back more than 140 years should choose to preserve one of Norwood’s fine old mansions, a landmark here since before the Civil War.

Years of preparation and planning have gone into the restoration and furnishings of the old mansion which have been carried out to the finest detail.

Over a period of three years, and with diligence and patience with this type of establishment in mind, Mr. T. C. Eastman, president of the Eastman Funeral Service, and Mr. R. H. Johnston, treasurer, have been collecting the furnishings and appointments from many places throughout the world. Many of the furnishings have come from their own families dating back as far as the American Revolution. Restoration of the antiques has been carefully supervised to ensure the authenticity of their finish and upholstery.

The public will have an opportunity to inspect the home, located at 12 Vernon street, this weekend, from 1 to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Hawaiian orchids will be distributed to the ladies at that time.

The old inn was built about the middle of the 19th century on the site of the present Sanborn Block by Joel M. Baker, as his residence. The property then passed to his son, Henry Baker, who ran a general store in town. Old-timers recall that Henry Baker’s widow sold it to Dr. Frederick H. Nutting, who later moved to Beacon avenue.

Messenger Printed There

The Baker residence was one of the last three white houses on Washington street (the Day, Baker, and Smith places) which were moved to make way for mercantile establishments. The Baker house and barn were moved around the corner on Vernon street The barn, in fact, was once the home of the Norwood Messenger, and Alec Ambrose, who founded the paper in 1895, once lived in the mansion.

When moved to its present location on Vernon street, it was first converted into a two-family house, it later was to become a rooming house, an inn, and a restaurant.

Mrs. Katherine Letts, who now lives across the street, once owned it as a rooming house. The property later passed into the hands of Carl Johnson, who converted it into an inn adding many facilities. The Fisher Family bought it in the 1930’s and operated it as an inn and a restaurant. During the war years, it reverted back to a rooming house. The present owners acquired the property from the Fishers on August 28, 1956. Messrs. Eastman and Johnston immediately set about transforming the premises into one of the finest funeral homes to be found anywhere in New England, exercising great care to provide the most modern equipment and facilities front a professional- standpoint while at the same time restoring the mansion to its original period.

This task has had most pleasing results, as visitors there this weekend will discover.

Three Chapels Included

The new funeral home includes three chapels and a central lounge, as well as private smoking room for both ladies and gentlemen.

The visitor will find the Wedge-Wood Room to the right of the main entrance. There the decor consists of wedgewood blue walls trimmed with white. This room is graced with a niche in which Is placed a large statue of Our Lady of Grace made of hand-carved Carrara Marble and imported from Italy. The drapes are traditional imported English gold damask. On the floor is an oriental rug of French design and the furnishings and appointments are of the period in which the house was built. The beautiful crystal chandelier was imported from Austria.

To the left of the main entrance is the Empire Room with its Yorkshire grey walls and white, trim. The drapes are of Antique Green satin. The furnishings and appointments are all authentic Empire pieces, and the rug also is French design.

At the end of the entrance hall is the Central Lounge which has Ionic Gold Schumacher paper and white woodwork. The drapes are of Antique Green Satin with gold inlay, and the furnishings and appointments are of the same period as the house. Here again the rug is oriental. This room has a fireplace, as do the Wedge-wood and Empire Rooms.

The chandelier of the Central Lounge has an interesting story which dates back to its origin 175 years ago in Sweden when candles were the common source of domestic illumination. Later the fixture was converted to use gas, and then the switch was made to electricity. This chandelier was obtained in Topsficld, Mass., from an old Swedish’ family whose grandfather brought it from Sweden.

To the left of the Central Lounge is the ladies smoking lounge and powder room. The smoking lounge walls are of imported paper with a french motif, and the furnishings are of modern era black tubular iron. Upholstered in gold and turquoise, the furniture was made by Hayward Wakefield and was purchased from the Boston Furniture Show as the first pieces of this type ever manufactured by this company, known originally for its maple furnishings. Here the rug is a turquoise twist broadloom, and the lamps and appointments conform to the modern decor. This room also has a fireplace.

Ceramic Tile In Powder Room

Pink and black ceramic tile is combined with silver cherub wallpaper in the ladies powder room.

To the right of the Central Lounge is a large chapel measuring approximately 16 feet x 38 feet. This room has the modern facilities and decor, so suited to this type of profession. The walls have been canvased and painted rose beige. On the feature wall is an imported mural with Italian motif. The drapes are of cocoa brown and gold, the tables are Italian Provincial of Italian walnut and gold, and the rùg is an èmbossed greón broadloom. This room has an alcove in which will b» placed, a modem electric organ.

What formerly comprised the kitchen area of the old lnn, located to the left rear of the Central Lounge, has been suitably restored with bleached mahogany paneling throughout. This area 1 now comprises a men’s smoking lounge and lavatory of grcèn ceramic tile.

Completing the first-floor layout is a private sitting room and office space. This floor will also include a cloakroom In what was a large walk-in China closet of the original house.

The second floor is reached by a hung, cypress stairway with graceful banister typical or the period. Red broadloom carpets the stairway. On the walls of the hall is Schumacher’s Yorktown paper with traditional Federal insignia. A large central hall on the second floor gives way to three casket selection rooms and office space.

The exterior of the old inn has also been restored with considerable attention to original detail. For instance, a Christian door is back at the front entrance with the original sidelight which were rescued from another part of the building. The old shutters were also restored and painted green to offset the traditional exterior white.

The front porch with is four Corinthian columns has been reopened, a modern wrought iron railing installed, and black and brass carriage lamps hung at each side of the entrance.

A separate side entrance gives access to the large rear chapel.

A spacious area in the rear has been blacktopped to provide maximum off-street parking facilities. The grounds have also been attractively landscaped.

Plan Goes Back Ten Years

The plan for this modern funeral home with its interesting and historical background goes back about ten years when the firm first contemplated coming to Norwood. There followed a careful search for suitable quarters, and four different locations were considered before the final selection of the present historical site.”

The opening of the new funeral home- brings to Norwood 140 years of experience in this profession. The Eastman Funeral Service, Inc., was established In 1815 and the firm has the distinction of being the first in historical records of any American city. As progressive leaders, they have contributed materially to the advancement of the profession. They pioneered In the application of the embalming process; designed and constructed the first auto hearse and later the limousine hearse, and acquired the first home for funerals in New England.

Combine Efficiency, Dignity

This famous old house, one of the most renowned in New England and one of the best equipped anywhere, serves the leading families of Boston and vicinity. The present officers of the firm, while maintaining an efficient organization, still retain the quiet dignity that has characterized the firm for more than 140 years.

General Resident Manager of the new funeral home is Roger J. Chartrand. He attended St. Bernard’s High School in Fitchburg, and took business extension courses at the University of Massachusetts. He attended the New England Institute of Sanitary Science and Embalming, graduating in 195C. He served his apprenticeship at the Carroll R. Gochie Mortuary, Saundersvllle, Mass., and has been associated with the Hugh Cannon Funeral Home in Dedham, He is a World War II veteran, having seen Army service with the Finance Dispursing Section.

Staff Member at the new funeral home is Paul E. Nolan of 25 Rock street, a native of Norwood. He attended Norwood High School, class of 1948, and is now attending the New England Institute of Anatomy and Mortuary Science.

Mr. Eastman and Mr. Johnston have made themselves available at all times to answer any questions or inquiries pertaining to the business. They will be present during the period of the open house and will be most happy to meet everyone.

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