The new owners of Wann Funeral Home say they plan to remodel and renovate the longtime St. Elmo fixture, which they call the oldest continually operating facility of its kind in Chattanooga.
"We'll keep the old antique look but add new things to complement those," said Shawn Williamson, who bought the 111-year-old funeral home at the foot of Lookout Mountain on Tennessee Avenue with husband Cade.
The Williamsons, who already own Legacy Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Soddy-Daisy, bought Wann from owner John Hargis, they said Thursday.
Hargis, who purchased Wann Funeral Home from Jimmy Wann in 1972, said nothing is expected to change in terms of operating under the new ownership.
"I plan to continue to work closely with Cade, Shawn and the families we serve," he said in a statement. "[They] have been working closely with me at Wann's for some time now, and I'm happy and proud to have them take over the business."
The purchase price wasn't announced.
Shawn Williamson said the St. Elmo site, which will be called Wann Funeral Home and Cremation Center, is needed by the area.
"We felt like the community...really needed this," she said.
The owners, who are both licensed funeral directors and embalmers, said they plan are to update the building with new paint, restore its hardwood floors and possibly enlarge an outside area where people can sit.
Cade Williamson said they'll be "balancing substance with style" and create "a sophisticated yet comforting atmosphere for the families we serve."
He is a fifth generation funeral director, with his great, great grandfather, R.J. Coulter, starting the tradition at R.J. Coulter Undertaking Co. in Dayton, Tenn., in 1897.
Wann Funeral Home was established by J.H. Wann and his son, Paul Wann, according to newspaper archives. It was first located on Reed Avenue, later moving to McCallie and Lindsay. Still later, it shifted to Georgia Avenue. In 1942, it moved again to 541 McCallie Ave. and then to McCallie and Palmetto in 1958.
In 1964, the funeral home's owners remodeled the former James Craig Loder, Post 148, American Legion Building in St. Elmo.