Estes Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services just got a brand new makeover. After two years of groundwork (and groundbreaking), the funeral home is set to reveal its new look and home.
The festivities are set for Oct. 14 and, while one might not necessarily think of a party when it comes to funeral services, it is clear the opening night celebration is as much about the chapel’s legacy as it is the space.
“It is a celebration of our longevity of service to the community,” said Tracy Wesley, Estes Funeral Director and nephew of its late founder Richard Estes. “For the community, it gives a sense of pride and purpose in the burial of our loved ones.”
The building features state-of-the-art technology designed by award-winning African American architect Jamil Ford and his firm Mobilize Design and Architecture. The 200+ seat chapel is equipped with audio and video screens and live streaming services for family members unable to attend in person. It can also showcase DVD presentations for the deceased at the facility.
“We have a wonderful [new] facility in which to be able to serve [and] offer services going forward that other homes do not have,“ Wesley shared. “This facility will greatly improve how we are able to serve families in the future by way of modern technology in funeral service.”
There is also an expanded space and family room for special services, gatherings and receptions along with a reflection garden just outside of the chapel where families can come and have a “moment of remembrance of their loved ones,” said Wesley.
A legacy art wall inside the facility serves as an archive, showcasing nearly six decades of the funeral home’s history. Since 1962, the first Black-owned funeral and cremation service in Minneapolis has served thousands of families. The longtime community fixture has also outlasted its former neighboring businesses.
“Of all the African American businesses that were in operation along the Plymouth Avenue corridor, only Estes Funeral Chapel has been able to remain in operation,” shared Wesley.
When Estes passed away in 2013, his wife April Estes and Wesley worked to carry on his legacy of community service, which included joining in the redevelopment of North Minneapolis’ Penn-Plymouth corridor.
Today, Estes stands as part of a Black-owned resurgence in North Minneapolis. It is located just across the street from Thor’s new Regional Accelerator Center which houses many Black-owned businesses — including Thor, Sammy’s Avenue Eatery and the MN African American History Museum.
“We are here to serve,” said Wesley. “[We’re] excited to be able to help grieving families with the highest level of professionalism, with integrity and to honor their loved ones with dignity and peace.”
Estes Funeral Chapel will host its opening night celebration Sunday, Oct. 14 from 2-5 pm at its new home located at 2201 Plymouth Avenue North (across the street from its old location) in Minneapolis.
Stephenetta Harmon is a Black beauty editor, curator, and digital media and communications expert who builds platforms to celebrate the power, impact, and business of Black beauty. She is the former EIC for Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (2018-19) and current host of MSR Forefront, a digital roundtable series. She is the founder of Sadiaa Black Beauty Guide, the premier directory dedicated to Black-owned hair and beauty businesses. Find her at stephenetta.com.