East Coast couple brings funeral home back to life


By Shellie Smitley of Waynesboro’s The True Citizen

Joshua and Melissa Brownell recently purchased a Midville building, fulfilling their dream of residing in a historic southern home.

The Brownells kept their eyes on the old funeral home via the internet. The listing flip-flopped from pending to up-for-sale over the course of approximately 265 days.

Melissa said it has always been her dream to live “down South.”

“Ever since I was little, I have always been drawn to the trees with the moss hanging in them, the old historic houses like this,” she said and pointed out that she had never visited Georgia as a child. The Massachusetts couple did, however, visit the Peach State a week before they relocated.

The couple raced for their dream with zeal. They sold their Westminster home, put their belongings in storage, packed up the camper and headed toward the Mason-Dixon Line. Everyone they knew thought they were crazy, but the couple “didn’t care,” Melissa said.

“We went to Savannah for three days about a month ago and then went back, grabbed the camper, and headed down,” Joshua said, pointing out they made an offer on the house of their dreams after two days and closed on it six days later.

The house, constructed in 1900, features a large traditional front porch and columns. To the couple’s delight, an original stone walkway existed underneath overgrown vegetation.

The ceilings range from 13 to 20 feet high. The smallest rooms in the house boast 17.5 feet by 16 feet in size. Entryway columns lead to a grandiose staircase. There is a butler’s pantry next to the formal kitchen. An addition, suspected to function originally as a butler’s quarters, provides the family with a screened- in porch. Multiple bathrooms contain antique bathtubs and there are five fireplaces throughout the dwelling.

The couple intends to restore the building to its original state. They feel fortunate that all the windows and the electrical system had been replaced before they purchased it.

“I love just the look of it and the way it is built,” Melissa said and added that the house is awakening the more they clean it.

The fact that it once housed cadavers doesn’t bother the family of seven.

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