The Carey Hand building

October 2022

The Carey Hand Funeral Home, known after the owner, Carey Hand, was once the largest in Central Florida, serving Hillsborough, Orange, Osceola, Polk, and Seminole counties. Opened in 1920, the business was the first funeral home in Florida with a chapel. Five years later, the addition of a crematory made the funeral home the first to include a crematorium built south of Cincinnati. 

Hand was a trained embalmer–someone who preserves human remains by treating them to delay decomposition. Before the Carey Hand Funeral Home opened, burials in Orlando had a one- to two-day turnaround time. If someone died in the morning, they were buried that afternoon. If someone died at night, they were buried the next morning.

The Carey Hand Funeral Home | Photo credit: Downtown Orlando

The building located at 36 W. Pine St. in downtown Orlando was the original home of the Carey Hand Funeral home, designed by architect F.H. Trimble in the Renaissance Revival style, a form of architecture inspired by Florentine merchant buildings in Italy. This style of architecture is characterized by rectangular buildings, primarily of stone, with symmetrical facades. Other features include different types of windows on each floor–all visible elements of the Carey Hand Funeral Home. The structure includes eight arches in the street facade. 

Photo Credit: Orlando Weekly

The building was used as a mortuary until 1992, but Carey Hand’s company by no means went out of business. The company, today known as Carey Hand and Cox-Parker Funeral Homes, has been in operation since 1890 and has four locations across greater Orlando. Funeral home records from 1891 to 1955 can be accessed at the University of Central Florida (UCF) Special Collections. UCF began using the building in 2007 to house the College of Business Executive Development Center. 

Carey Hand moved to Orlando in 1907 to join his father, Elijah Hand. Both father and son were trained embalmers. Elijah had moved to Orlando in 1885 (one year before Joseph Bumby moved his hardware store into the structure at 102-110 W. Church St.) and began his own funeral home business. Carey Hand bought out his father’s share of the business in 1914.

Photo Credit: Map Spirits

During the day, sounds of footsteps and conversations have been reported from passers-by outside the building and employees within. But the end of the day awakens spirits long gone from Orlando’s streets. The building is known as one of the most haunted places in Orlando. In the quiet hours, listen for footsteps and whispers from souls of funeral home residents who extended their stay.

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