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A practical need has given rise to a new use for an old building in downtown Carlisle.

Craig Hoffman, business manager for Hoffman Companies, said more and more clients of the family’s funeral business, Hoffman Funeral Home, were looking for a mid-size facility to host gatherings following a funeral. A room at a restaurant was too small and other alternatives were too large.

Frederick House at 219 N. Hanover St. is the answer they were looking for.

Hoffman Companies re-purposed the former location of its funeral home into a “modern, functional space in downtown Carlisle,” for a variety of events. The transition gave the company the option to create cost-effective packages for their clients, Hoffman said.

“It’s original purpose was, and still is, to have a place for families after a funeral to come and have a reception because you’re not allowed to have food served at a funeral home,” Hoffman said.

Still, Hoffman downplays the building’s history as a funeral home to promote Frederick House as a flexible facility that can be used for meetings, conferences, parties and celebrations.

“The challenge has been just getting the word out that it’s not the funeral home anymore. It’s an event space,” Hoffman said.

Options

The facility can be set up in a number of ways, Hoffman said. A smaller, slightly set-apart section can be used for a reception area leading into the main banquet area. A sliding accordion style door can be pulled between these two sections to create a more intimate setting, Hoffman said.

The main banquet area can be set up either for a banquet or for an auditorium-style meeting, depending on the type of event being held.

The entire facility seats about 100 people, Hoffman said.

A former office at the front of the building currently being used for storage will also be available as a conference room for board or business meetings, Hoffman said.

Catering is available through a partnership with Spoons Cafe on West Pomfret Street, and Hoffman said a bartending service can be brought in for events.

“Christmas is actually coming up, believe it or not. There’s such a small window of opportunity for groups to rent a place and they fill up. People try to get in on the action quickly at this time of year,” Hoffman said.

Parking

Elements from its former use as a funeral home do remain. The original lobby and chandelier are still intact as is the carport along the side of the building. Hoffman said they are working on adding parking to the rear of the building.

“When all of this gets finished, this side of the block, we’ll have this end of the block looking nice,” he said.

With the new Indigo Color Bar & Salon down the street and The Sunrise Cafe coming soon next door, Hoffman sees Frederick House as part of the improvements that will connect the downtown to the new development at the former Masland/IAC site.

“We hope once that’s finish that will really enhance this side of town,” he said.

There is the issue of the upcoming construction of a roundabout all but right outside the front door at the intersection of Hanover Street, Penn Street and Fairground Avenue, but Hoffman believes Frederick House will weather the construction because of status as a destination space.

“People will want to come here because of the event booked here,” he said.

The transformation marks yet another transition for the historic structure. Originally known as the Frederick Mansion, the house saw its first renovation when a section was attached to make way for the J.C. Lutz & Sons funeral home in 1936. Though the name changed to Hoffman Funeral Home and later to Hoffman-Roth Funeral Home, the structure remained a place where families came to honor and remember their lost loved ones.

“It’s a 100 year old facility, but now we’re revising it and trying to do some new things,” Hoffman said.

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Email Tammie at tgitt@cumberlink.com. Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.

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Carlisle Reporter

Carlisle Reporter for The Sentinel.