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Our Story

Our History

Rest Haven Funeral Home is dedicated to providing services to our families with care and compassion.

For over 40 Years Rest Haven Funeral Home has helped families in and around the community of Hagerstown plan the celebrations of lives lived. We serve every family with great pride. We are able to offer a wide range of services to meet your family's needs and customs. We will listen to you and your wishes to help plan a celebration consistent with your expectations. We will take the time to plan every detail and help to relieve the burden on your family during your time of loss.

 

 

Miss Emma Ensminger, who is one of Hagerstown’s wide awake business ladies, has the honor of naming the Cemetery. Miss Ensminger’s business connections afforded her the full knowledge of the development of the enterprise from the beginning. As soon as the location was selected she turned her attention to the finding of a suitable name, and submitted the name Rest Haven, which was unanimously accepted by the founders. In appreciation of this, the founders awarded her for her valuable services, a choice plot inRest Haven. To further express the beauty of Rest Haven, she wrote the poem printed below.

 

 

Rest Haven

With its silvery lake so deep and still, And the soft twitter of the birds in the trees on the hill, When the day is done, ‘tis where one likes to wander, Over mossy green paths to the place over yonder, Called Rest Haven.

On a hot sunny day you’ll find coolness and rest, And if weary from toil your memory refresh, But if skies are dark and dreary, You’ll find Nature’s wonders to make you cheery, In Rest Haven.

And when you are old and gray, When the tide of life slowly ebbs away, This should be your last request. Place me where there’s peace and rest, In Rest Haven

- Emma Ensminger

 


 

90 Years Ago

Hagerstown’s Rest Haven Funeral Home and Chapel made history. In 1927, Aaron M. Horst started what would become the first combined cemetery-mortuary operation in Maryland, and the third in the United States. It started small. A modest structure was built on the cemetery grounds in 1942 to serve as a gathering place for the families of servicemen killed overseas during World War II. It meant so much to the public that Horst decided to expand. He obtained a funeral director corporation license from the estate of C.L. Suman in 1948 and five years later, the doors swung open at Rest Haven’s first full-size chapel. He didn’t stop there. In 1957, a major remodeling project began, and by 1963, three additional visitation rooms were added to the chapel. By then, Horst’s son, William, was helping his father manage the growing cemetery and funeral home operation. The founder stayed active in his business until 1965, one year before he died at age 85. In the 1970’s when Rest Haven was purchased by International Funeral Services, Inc., William Horst still managed the operation along with James F. Powers and Henry S. Ford, members of the Rest Haven staff.

Tragedy struck Rest Haven in 1984. A Saturday night fire, believed to be the work of an arsonist, destroyed the funeral home and damaged the chapel and lobby of Rest Haven. More than 40 firefighters battled the heavy smoke and flames into Sunday morning. A thick slate roof over the chapel area hampered efforts to control the blaze. Intense heat from the flames melted a copper cross atop the chapel. The fire was a setback for Rest Haven. The funeral home was never rebuilt, and Rest Haven reverted to a cemetery only operation.

Ownership then changed to Service Corporation International, a Houston-based company. In 1988, Service Corporation International employee, Charles Brown and his wife, Patricia, a public health nurse, purchased the cemetery from the Texas company. From the start, Brown was determined to rebuild the funeral home side of the business. “So many families had come asking us to please rebuild the funeral home”, Brown said, “One of the reasons they liked Rest Haven so much was the convenience of having the funeral home and cemetery right here in one place, it seemed only proper that I rebuild it”. State licensing policies however, prevented Rest Haven from opening the funeral home until 1999. It took 9 months to build it, on a much grander scale, in the same spot it had burned down in 1984.

Today, the funeral home not only has a full service chapel, but a large reception room with a stone fireplace and three visitation rooms. A veranda along the front of the building, as well as large windows in the lounge overlooking the cemetery grounds. The vision of the founder, who was ahead of his time in the 1940’s, has now been carried out.

 



Rest Haven Funeral Home and Cemetery
Phone: (301) 733-3575
1601 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21742


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