Well, I wasn’t expecting that! A friend dug up some interesting info at the library the other day! Seems our building has a little history I wasn’t expecting! Early on, it housed the Wolt, Berge, Swoboda Funeral Home in the west side of the building (432 Norfolk Ave). That was a surprise that certainly hadn’t come up before in all the recollections of the old timers I had talked to!
In an effort to confirm this as fact, I placed a call to Home for Funerals here in Norfolk. Yes, there was at one time several funeral homes in Norfolk. During World War II they merged to pool their resources and cut expenses, forming what is now Home for Funerals. From the Newspaper article and ad seen here, Mr Fred Wolt opened a Furniture store at 438 Norfolk Ave. This is the present location of the vacant Stinson’s/Dollar General building. It was June of 1916.
“The opening of the Fred G Wolt Store was attended by a large crown of Norfolk people. Special furniture from eastern factories was brought to Norfolk for the opening. The new store is in the Rees building on Norfolk Avenue and fifth street. Each visitor was presented with a carnation.” (nice touch!)
“Mr Wolt, who is now in charge of the store, will turn the management over to his partner, RB Judson who will move here from Gering Nebraska in a few days. Mr Wolt will return to Norfolk in a month and open an undertaking establishment. He is in that business in Scottsbluff Ne. The stock of the new store is valued at $8000.” (Well that barely sets up a living room these days! ) It was fascinating to me that, like myself, Mr Wolt’s furniture store was stocked with “Shades, Curtains, and Curtain rods”! Isnt that interesting! I know that it was common at the time for undertakers and furniture stores to often share the same building and, although it’s not within the same walls, it did place the two businesses just doors apart!
From a listing in a city directory and another article, I could see that Forest Swoboda joined the firm, completing the 3 partner name, in August of 1938. But, by 1939 the store was listed as vacant. That must be the year Home for Funerals formed with Berge and Swoboda as partners there.
Now, if only I could figure out who added this crazy garage at the back of our building! You would not believe what is on the inside, Given the sadly decomposing cinder block construction, you would think to knock it down and start over. But, check this out:
An unbelievable ceiling and a skylight?! For a hearse?? We just dont know for sure. It’s a theory that will need some more investigating . Hmmm , maybe we need a seance to get these questions answered as no one living can tell me just when that was added and what for!
For more pics and updates, follow us on our Facebook page.