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51 Benton Collage.jpg51 Benton St.:  Formerly Schreiter-Sandrock Funeral Home

Fortunately I have not visited many funeral homes for their intended purpose, but I have had the opportunity of viewing many century old funeral homes across Southern Ontario in my previous career as an advertising consultant.  In no way would I be considered morbid.  Association with death does not appeal to me, but I did enjoy every funeral home appointment.  Most appointments included a tour, including historical background about the original owner, if I was lucky.  (An added bonus to these appointments….they were always quiet, peaceful and interrupted.. a sales reps dream!)  What has intrigued me about century old funeral homes is their beautiful architecture and the meticulous attention most current owners apply to the maintenance and up-keep of the original features.

I travel daily by foot (or car) past the former Schreiter-Sandrock Funeral Home located on the corner of Benton & Church Street at 51 Benton Street in Kitchener.  I have always admired the architecture of this beautiful Victorian Italianate, featuring a Widow’s Peak in original photos.

The Schreiter-Sandrock Funeral Home sold in the early part of 2015.  Over the following months, I have noticed the previous business sign gone and the windows replaced.  My imagination began to wander…..what a beautiful home this could be!  My question; “Would you live in a home that was formerly a funeral home?  After thinking about this, I would have to say Yes!”     With over 8,000 sq.ft. of useable space, I suppose it would be too large as a residential home for most of us.  With several additions the over the decades, I could still envision a beautiful family home with an additional in-law unit(s), or possibly an amazing B & B operation?  Maybe this location would become condos or apartment rentals? Possibly a restaurant and banquet facilities? Assuming zoning would be permitted.  As long as it is not torn down, I would be happy…. and on that note,  it does not look like 51 Benton St. will be a victim to the demolition ball.

Searching through the City of Kitchener website, it appears that the new owners have applied for approval to alter the current parking facilities for the business of a Medical Center.

A bit of history: Built in 1853, 51 Benton Street was family home of Edwin Perry Clement, a prominent lawyer, and his wife Jane, daughter of early Kitchener physician Dr. D.S. Bowlby, until 1924.  A.G. Schreiter bought the funeral business (and a furniture business) from the Simpson Co. in Kitchener.  The funeral business moved to this location in 1928. It became known as the Schreiter-Sandrock Funeral Home in 1939. Two locals, Jerome Futher and Douglas Hallman, bought the business from Sandrock in 1967.

Kitchener funeral businesses occupy (or have occupied) some of the most beautiful century old homes in the past.  More recently the Ratz-Bechtel Funeral Home (formerly the Kaufman House Mansion) at 621 King Street, has hit the real estate market.  Wondering what the future use will be?