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J.M. Connelley Funeral Home — Charleston, South Carolina

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J.M. Connelley Funeral Home

Businessman J.M. Connelley moved to Charleston from Edgefield in 1892 after purchasing a funeral business from Frederick Ansel. Connelley bought the single house at 313 Meeting Street to use as his residence, and in 1894 he built this Romanesque Revival-style funeral home on the lot next door.

Connelley Funeral Home

Darryl Brooks of Atlanta, GA © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Mr. Connelley successfully ran his funeral home for several decades, serving the city’s most prominent families as Charleston’s first licensed mortician. An entrepreneur, Connelley also operated another business, Charleston Greenhouses, from this site. An aquarium situated in front of his greenhouses contained the many tropical fish he sold from the grounds of the funeral home. In 1984 an Atlanta business purchased the building and converted it into condominiums. The sandstone facade and stained glass windows that are the defining details of this Victorian-era brick structure are original, and the glass still adorns several of the building’s units. A brick coffin house that Connelley built behind the funeral home is now owned and used by the College of Charleston.

J.M. Connelley Funeral Home Info

Address: 309 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401
GPS Coordinates: 32.786082,-79.934001

J.M. Connelley Funeral Home Map

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8 Comments about J.M. Connelley Funeral Home

Caroline Doyle says:
February 7th, 2019 at 2:13 am

I appreciate all of the shared stories. Mark Cox, I would be interested in speaking with you. My grandfather was Harry Hooker and I have fond childhood memories of running around “playing” at the funeral home and the garage and of course, spending time at my grandparents home next door until my grandfather died in 1978. It is great to read the wonderful and positive comments below.

Mark Cox says:
August 1st, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Jim McMahon, please send a photo of these signs, I worked at the funeral home in the 1960s and moved to Arizona 50 years ago. This establishment was a five-star funeral home in every way, very opulent and just as expensive. I would make you an offer.

Mark Cox says:
August 1st, 2017 at 5:11 am

To Alexandrea Cottingham, to answer your question of two years ago (I never received a notice you sent one to me) I worked for Charleston Ambulance Co, all ambulance services were for profit only back then. We would get called by Connelley Funeral Home to deliver a body to the funeral home from hospitals, homes, nursing centers or county morgue that was located at the county hospital. When the two person staff was unable to act in a timely manner, we had the keys and would pull in the back and take the body up to the third floor and respectfully put it away. The building was like a fortress built to last forever! The brass and mahogany were imported floors from Africa and polished with pride. Even the brass sign on the front door was taped off and polished every single day. Never, ever heard a squeak from a door hinge. The carpets that were on the floor were pure wool and vacuumed morning and night. As this establishment catered to old white wealthy people children never ran wild. Whoever has those signs, I’ll buy them. A photo please!

SCIWAY says:
August 1st, 2017 at 12:13 am

Wow, what a great piece of history to have! Have you reached out to maybe the Archives of the Charleston Museum? They may be interested in adding these to their collection. Do you have any photos? We would love to see them if you do. My email is brandon@sciway.net if you wanted to send some to show. Thanks!

Jim McMahon says:
July 31st, 2017 at 7:29 pm

I have in my posession a set of signs from the J.M. Connelley Co. Morticians of Charleston. I have had them for over thirty years. After reading the funeral home history. They must have come down when the building was sold in 1984. They must have some historical value. Anyone have any suggestions for what to do with them? They are heavy brass with raised letters. Thanks.

Alexandria Cottingham says:
December 13th, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Mark, I doing a research project for this building for my Historic Preservation class at the College of Charleston. I was wondering how you got a job there and how long you worked for the funeral home? Can you comment on anything else about the structure itself? I would love to hear more about your story.

Mark Cox says:
April 11th, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Another memory of this funeral home was of a tall slim African-American gentleman who was a full time employee. He was famous for keeping a mirror-like glass shine on the hearse and service cars. When you entered the street from the garage on the way to a funeral, the sun would blind you from the shine. He never rested, he kept that place clean and in good repair. From even keeping the ash trays empty and the floors polished, he was a legend. He would have a tux on and act as a doorman for visitations to the chapel. He was a Christian and was highly respected by everyone. I think he spent over 40 years caring for the business and those who lost family and loved ones, no humor at all, he was serious about his job.

Mark Cox says:
March 10th, 2015 at 9:47 pm

I used to pick up bodies in 1968 for this funeral home. The boss was a man named Mr. Harry Hooker. The embalming room was on the top floor and a tiny homemade freight elevator would lift the cot and body up. He had a covered parking garage behind the funeral home that was rented out to navy officers with nice cars to store when they were at sea. The vast majority of funerals we had were very old people who prepaid decades ago before death. The antiques in the funeral home were said to be worth a fortune because they were extremely fine and magnificent to behold.

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