Carey Hand Funeral Home
Still a major name in Orlando’s funerary business, the Carey Hand Funeral Home got its start in the early 20th century. The story of the Carey Hand Funeral Home starts with Elijah Hand, Carey Hand’s father and the first embalmer in Orlando.
In the 1880s, Orlando was still a very small town with the population numbering only in the hundreds. But the city was growing: by 1890, the population was nearly 3000. Up until the mid 1880s, when someone died, they were buried within twenty-four hours after their death: those who died in the morning were buried in the afternoon on the same day, and those who died at night were buried the next morning.
Orlando’s first trained embalmer, Elijah Hand, arrived around 1885 and changed the landscape surrounding death in The City Beautiful. Soon after his arrival, he formed a partnership with Edgar A. Richards, Orlando’s first undertaker, but by 1890, Richards had left the business. Elijah Hand decided to continue the business alone.
Elijah Hand’s Furniture Store, 1906
In 1905, Elijah Hand built a furniture store on 15 – 17 West Pine Street. His businesses combined funeral services with furniture making, perhaps a strange combination in the modern era, but a common one in the early 20th century as the ability to make coffins was a skill necessary for funeral directors.
Carey Hand, featured in Blackman’s History of Orange County, Florida
By 1907, Elijah Hand’s son, Carey Hand, also trained in embalming, arrived in Orlando. Seven years later, in 1914, Carey would buy out his father’s share of the funeral business.
Carey Hand Building
By 1918, Carey Hand began construction began on his own funeral home, located at 36 W. Pine Street. The Carey Hand Funeral Home became the most modern funeral home in Orlando at the time. The building, which has come to be known as the Carey Hand Building, was built by architect F.H. Trimble in a Renaissance Revival style.
By 1920, the Carey Hand Funeral Home was completed and it became the first funeral home in Orlando to have a chapel. In 1925, it notably became the first funeral home in the South with its own crematorium.
Carey Hand, a successful businessman, was a member of the Rotary Club, an active supporter of the Boy Scouts, and at one point, served on the Board of Directors for Associated Authors Productions, Inc.
Carey Hand Funeral Home advertised in the 1943 – 1944 Orlando City Directory
The Carey Hand Funeral Home was the largest in Central Florida, serving Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Polk and Hillsborough counties. Though the Hand family no longer owns the business, it is still in operation as Carey Hand and Cox-Parker Funeral Homes.
Funeral record of Braxton Beacham from the Carey Hand Funeral Records
The building, which is known as the Carey Hand Building, no longer operates as a funeral home, though it now serves as part of the University of Central Florida’s Downtown Campus. The University of Central Florida’s Special Collection also contains the Carey Hand Funeral Records.
Though these records are incomplete, they contain many years between 1891 and 1955 and have been useful as genealogical records and for historical research on Central Florida.