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Funeral Museum to Open in Chatham - abc27 WHTM

Funeral Museum to Open in Chatham

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Chatham, VA - Main Street in Chatham has a new addition that's a bit out of the ordinary.

Next month, a Funeral Museum will open to the public.

While the idea may seem like a strange subject for a museum, the owners say it is designed to pay homage to the honor and splendor that comes with saying goodbye.

The Simpson Funeral Museum is a beautiful space filled with light. Inside, you'll find pictures and relics that capture man's tradition of burial; from the Egyptian tombs to the present.

 "Basically we want to show to the public how we in funeral service and the profession attempt to honor the dead," said owner Bill Simpson.

Simpson and his son run a handmade casket company just over the state line. Now, they're bringing their passion to the public with an impressive collection of antiques and memorabilia.

"People have been very interested. We've had hundreds of people stopping by during the construction period," Simpson said.

The owners invested $600,000 into renovating the space, which had fallen into a state of disrepair. Now, the beautiful showroom features caskets identical to those used for John Wayne, Elvis and a list of US presidents that have passed on.

Photographs on the wall pay homage to some of Pittsylvania County's most revered figures in the industry. Most of the pieces are worth thousands, but for Simpson, the project isn't about money.

"This is a 501 C3 non-profit open to the public free of charge," Simpson said.

Simpson hopes the new attraction will catch the interest of locals and visitors, making it a win-win for downtown Chatham.

"Maybe people will come to town to visit the museum, maybe they'll stop and spend a dollar and buy some gasoline or lunch, and it will help the economy overall," Simpson said.

The museum is not quite ready yet. The owners hope to officially open in late June.

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