MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The oldest Black-owned business on Plymouth Avenue in north Minneapolis is moving.
Since 1962, Estes Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service has been a part of the community.
This weekend, the Estes family is celebrating the opening of a brand new facility.
“This is a building that I don’t think you-re going to see anywhere else, and I’m really proud of it, and I know that Richard is looking down and he’s proud of it also,” April Estes said.
From 1962 until 1987, Richard and April Estes served north Minneapolis in a chapel near Humboldt and Plymouth avenues. A second chapel was built at Penn and Plymouth avenues in 1987.
“He’s always wanted a third chapel,” April said. “So even though he’s not here, I wanted him to have a third chapel.”
Richard passed away in 2013, but that did not stop his wife from keeping her husband’s legacy going. She asked Jamil Ford, a north Minneapolis resident and owner of Mobilize Design and Architecture, to bring her vision to life.
“It’s modern, it’s fresh, it gives a new attitude not only for the client, Mrs. Estes, but it also gives a new vibe for this community,” Ford said.
Ford says he was intentional with his design to highlight the Estes family’s connection to the community.
“There’s a little bit of inspiration to a more of a Frank Lloyd Wright type of design that’s very sleek and modern,” Ford said.
Estes is part of a Black-owned resurgence in north Minneapolis, sitting across the street from Thor’s new Regional Accelerator Center. The chapel was built by Noor Companies, an African American construction company.
Tracy Wesley, funeral director and Estes nephew, says the new facility houses state-of-the-art equipment.
“I feel like we have the capability from a technological standpoint to do something that other places just don’t offer,” Tracy said. “To be able to broadcast a funeral service worldwide for people who can’t come in, or make it to a service, to have that capability to do that is big.”
From the reflection garden just outside the chapel, to expanded space and family rooms for special services, Estes is using its computerized funeral chapel to serve Minnesotans for another generation.
The old Estes funeral chapel will be torn down in November to make way for an expansion of North Pointe Health and Wellness Center.
Estes will celebrate its grand opening Sunday, October 14.