Marsellus Casket Co.
Those in the funeral industry will appreciate another historical artifact being exhibited at the Museum through June 30 – the last casket ever manufactured by the Marsellus Casket Co. Founded in 1872 and regarded as the “Rolls Royce of caskets,” Marsellus has a long history of making fine wood caskets including ones for notables such as Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Truman and Reagan, Governor Nelson Rockefeller and sports legends Vince Lombardi and Mickey Mantle. On May 29, 2003 the last casket rolled off the line as the company went out of business – a model 710, “The President,” a mahogany casket polished to a high gloss and lined with pearl-colored velvet. The National Museum of Funeral History became its proud owner and is proud to display the company’s exceptionally fine workmanship.
Saturday, June 13
10 am-4 pm
Admission: FREE, open to the general public
Join us as we host the Professional Car Society’s “Concours D’Elegance Show and Shine” car show, as part of the group’s 39th Annual International Meet happening June 9-13, 2015. This unique car show on the grounds of the Museum features dozens of exquisitely-restored or authentically-preserved professional vehicles, including vintage funeral hearses, flower cars, livery vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks and more from all over North America.
A special highlight for this year’s car show includes a FDNY fire engine used during September 11th rescue and recovery efforts and in 28 funerals for fallen firefighters. Prior to 9/11, the retired fire engine was used at the New York Fire Academy as a training vehicle. On that fateful September day in 2001, the engine was immediately put back into front line service for rescue and recovery efforts and then continued to be used for several months after 9/11. It was particularly valuable since FDNY lost a large number of its engines in 9/11 (approximately 40). The engine, which is currently owned by a retired Houston Fire Department firefighter, will make an appearance at the PCS car show, complete with a flag draped casket and accompanied by a performance by the Houston Fire Department’s pipes & drums ensemble.
Other types of cars for visitors to explore include a 1965 Cadillac ambulance-funeral coach combination vehicle, a rare 1958 Chevy Bel Aire Ambulance, only one of seven known to exist, and more. Vehicle makes featured in the car show will span Cadillac, LaSalle, Lincoln, Packard, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Studebaker and other chassis bodied as funeral vehicles or ambulances by such esteemed specialist coachbuilders as Eureka, Flxible, Henney, Pinner, Siebert, Sayers & Scovill, Miller-Meteor, Cotner/Bevington and Superior.
Car show attendees will also be able to visit the Museum (entry fee required) and explore its unparalleled collection of funeral service vehicles in the Historical Hearses exhibit, ranging from elegant horse-drawn funeral carriages of the 19th century and 1916 Packard funeral bus to the actual hearses used in the state funeral services of US Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, as well as an elaborate glass-paneled funeral carriage made in Germany in 1850, a 1921 motorized hearse, whose opulent, hand-carved wooden panels exemplified the extravagance of craftsmanship among hearse manufacturers during the era, and more.
Admission prices to enter the Museum still apply June 13.
Saturday, June 20 & Sunday, June 21
Lincoln impersonator both days 2 - 4pm
Celebrate Father’s Day with us while spending quality time with dad exploring the museum and learning more about President Lincoln and his impact on our history, all in celebration of Abe’s life and legacy in honor of the 150th anniversary of his death. The Museum is “rolling” back prices for dads to 1909, the year Lincoln first appeared on the penny, so dads will get in for a “Lincoln” of their choice, either $5 or 1¢, with the purchase of one general admission.
From 2 – 4 pm each day, President Lincoln (impersonator) will be on-hand to give visitors a true “Lincoln experience.” Pose for a photo with Honest Abe while learning more about his life and legacy, his funeral train procession and the history of embalming, including how he was the first president to be embalmed, how embalming began during the Civil War, how Washington D.C. evolved into the country’s embalming meccas in the 1860s and how it’s been perfected through the centuries since then. Then visit the Museum’s permanent exhibit, the History of Embalming, which maps a chronological path through the ages on the preservation of human remains from the mysterious rituals of ancient Egypt to the first techniques used in America during the Civil War and up through the early 20th century.
There are fun arts and crafts activities for the kids, including making Lincoln hats and beards, as well as learning about mourning badges, like the ones worn to President Lincoln’s funerals, and then crafting their own.
Families and coin/stamp collectors alike will enjoy exploring a few new Lincoln-related artifacts and displays in the Museum’s Presidential Funerals exhibit including a collection of rare Lincoln coins and stamps from the early 1900s, including a penny from 1910 and an authenticated collection of six stamps commemorating the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with stamps dating back to 1959.
History buffs will enjoy seeing other new Lincoln items including a replica of Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 death mask created by Houston artist S.J. Stout and “The Faces of Abe,” a chronological portrait history of Lincoln featuring 20 images which illustrate the drastic transformation in Lincoln’s appearance over a nearly 20 year period, particularly during his four years as president, showing the toll his role as our nation’s leader took on him. You can also peruse other Lincoln-related items on display, including a full scale re-creation of President Lincoln lying in repose, an authentic mourning badge worn by a guest at his funeral in 1865, an exact replica of the Derringer pistol used by John Wilkes Booth in the president’s assassination, a replica of the uniform worn by the Invalid Corps of the Civil War and a model train depicting the journey of the Lincoln funeral procession across the county to Springfield, Illinois for his burial service.