The staff at Einan’s at Sunset in Richland already know how difficult it is for family members to visit a funeral home after the death of a loved one.
And they’ve taken care to improve the experience with a recent $2 million remodel.
They’ll celebrate the completion of the project Memorial Day weekend with tours of the facility that include a display of a replica of President Abraham Lincoln’s coffin, refreshments and music.
The renovations added about 6,000 square feet to the 9,000-square-foot Richland funeral home off the bypass highway.
The rooms where staff meet with grieving families to make funeral arrangements have been remodeled to create a “living room” feel, said Holley Sowards, who manages the operations of Einan’s at Sunset funeral home.
The three rooms — there used to be two — feature tasteful light fixtures, homey décor provided by It’s All in the Details store in Kennewick and snacks, and the rooms’ large windows showcase sweeping views of the cemetery grounds.
A large TV screen allows family members to view casket and urn styles since more people are accustomed to online shopping, Sowards said.
“When it’s on the screen, it’s not as uncomfortable,” she said.
Sowards said it was important to her team to create a space that wasn’t too “stuffy” and “old looking,” and “well, like a funeral home.”
“We started dreaming and we dreamt really big,” she said of the plans to modernize, expand and improve the 50-year-old building.
In 2015, Einan’s at Sunset began the remodeling project to create a whole new look for the two-story facility.
“Our new look is modern, bright and warm. The atmosphere is uplifting, restorative and centered on positive messages of hope. Einan’s gives you the freedom to create meaningful experiences as you say goodbye to your loved one. We are a full-service funeral establishment, well equipped to handle all your needs,” said Mike Grace, president of Einan’s at Sunset Funeral Home Board.
Sowards agreed: “If you can dream it, we can do it. It’s part of the culture here. We strongly believe in shattering expectations. Going above and beyond is more than something we strive for. It’s part of our Einan’s DNA.”
During the construction period, Einan’s at Sunset staff worked hard to minimize the impact on families.
“We’ve served more than 1,000 families throughout the entire project and they were all very supportive and understanding and patient with us. We had no complaints from anyone. Having that community support, along with dedicated hard-working staff, is pretty much the only way we got through it,” Sowards said.
The chapel lobby also was reconfigured and new furniture and décor added. Lobby walls feature photography from John Clement, a Tri-City photographer known for his scenic landscapes of the region.
The chapel was expanded and its orientation changed so visitors can look out toward Rattlesnake Mountain through new windows that let in a lot of natural light. An adjacent reception area and catering kitchen also provide a better way to serve food after services, Sowards said.
Staff offices were moved closer together to foster better collaboration, and more were added to accommodate future growth. The rest rooms also were renovated.
The funeral home’s behind-the-scenes rooms also saw significant improvements that include a new crematory with witness cremation options, new mechanical lifts to make it safer for staff to move the deceased, a renovated preparation room for embalming procedures and to ready loved ones for viewings and services, and increased controlled-temperature storage capacity.
Bob Bertsch of Ashley Bertsch Group of Kennewick was the prime contractor and Meier Architecture of Kennewick was the designer.
“We care about the community we serve — therefore when you come to Einan’s at Sunset, you are more than a business transaction. We treat your family like our family,” Sowards said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the remodel is planned May 26.
The funeral home open house and self-guided tours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 28 to May 29.
A replica of the coffin in which Lincoln is buried is on display from 3 to 7 p.m. May 25 and May 26; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 27 to May 29.
The coffin is one of five replicas made 10 years ago by the Batesville Casket Company of Indiana. Four of them travel the country and the fifth is on permanent display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
The coffin was built using a 1865 photograph of Lincoln lying in state.
On Memorial Day, free festivities will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a barbecue, Memorial Day program, military vehicle display, live music, funeral home tours and Lincoln coffin display.
The Memorial Day program begins at 11 a.m. at Swan Lake on Sunset Garden grounds. The steeldrum band Bram Bratá performs from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Einan’s at Sunset is at 915 Bypass Highway in Richland. For more information, call 509-943-1114 or visit sunsetgardenstricities.com.
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