Beginning next week, French Funeral Home will offer cremation for its customers at the Lawson-Miller Chapel location, 1702 E. National Ave, Brazil.
"The thought has been on our minds for several years," French Funeral Home Funeral Director Nick French said. "Here in the last 10 years, the cremation rate has begun to increase in Clay County. That was the initial impetus for installing the crematory.
"Cremation has been a growing trend for the last several years. Until the last few years, we didn't think it was necessary."
Before, if a family wanted a loved one cremated, the process took place in Terre Haute. But after seeing a growing demand for cremation, French said he believed it was necessary to install the service.
"We want to provide the families we serve the best possible care," he said. "Now we can provide the families we serve with personal care without leaving the facility. That was important to us."
French said the 29,000-pound unit was purchased through Matthews Cremation, based in Orlando, Fla. He added it was installed approximately one month ago.
The unit is one piece and took nearly two hours to put in place. It currently resides in what was the Lawson-Miller Chapel garage.
However, French Funeral Home established a wall separating the long garage in order for the crematory to be completely separate from any other area at the facility.
Currently, Mark A. Howald Construction and Design, Brazil, is putting the finishing touches on the area.
To the best of his knowledge, French said he believes the crematory is the first for Clay County.
According to French, the system uses natural gas and has a normal operating temperature level of 1,400-1,800-degrees. It will be specifically used for humans only.
French said the cremation process takes approximately two-three hours once the button is pushed.
French said he and French Funeral Home representative Tom Hofmann will run the system.
He added after hearing families' desire to not have to travel when cremation was requested as a reason for purchasing the unit and adding the system.
"This was a primary objective, to put this in," French said. "Some families wanted to see it. Some families actually want to push the button and start the process.
"(Families can) still have a 'traditional' service."
French said he hasn't ruled out having other funeral homes using the facility.
"If other funeral homes would like to use us, I have no problem with that," he said.
In addition, he said open houses are in the planning stages for April for the community to view the system.