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Our History

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It was in the winter of 1953 that this photo was taken. The building, originally a wooden structure, was the office and residence of Dr. L.M. Halsey. It was built for one of the glass house owners. It was here that Dr. H.M. Fooder started his local practice in 1910. In 1947, Michael Lanzalotti, owner of Lanzalotti Motors which stood across Main Street, purchased the building and transformed it into this beautiful stone residence.

In late 1953, he sold and it became a funeral parlor for Buck & Bell. This business goes back many years. It was founded by William Eastlack in a building just north of the Methodist Church on Main Street where it remained for over a half century. In 1878, William F. Buck, acquired the business and erected another building next door in which he sold furniture and home furnishings. His advertisements showed that if desired, bodies could be preserved in ice to prolong the funeral. Just before the turn of the century, John Bell, Sr. joined the firm. He died in 1915.

Young R. Edwin Buck joined the venture in the early 1900's, John S. Bell, son of John, Sr., became interested while he attended Glassboro High School. (There was no high school in Williamstown at the time). He started working with J. Harvey Hartman. This establishment was located on Main Street on the westerly side, three buildings south of Chestnut Street. Hartman had served his apprenticeship with the Blair establishment in 1926-27. When Harvey died in 1941, the business was terminated.

In 1940, John S. Bell joined Ed Buck and Buck & Bell Funeral Home was started. When Ed Buck passed away, the name was changed to Bell Funeral Home. In 1980, Bell sold the business to Robert A. Hennessy and retired. He spent much of his time at his shore home before passing in 2001.

Robert A. Hennessy served his apprenticeship under John S. Bell in 1968. He went on to become manager of Adams Perfect Home in Northfield, but they decided to return to Williamstown to join John S. Bell and the business name was changed to Bell-Hennessy Funeral Home.

Robert A. Hennessy has owned and operated the funeral home since 1980. Today, his two sons, Robert and Patrick manage the day-to-day activities at the funeral home.

Photo and information provided by Joseph R. Gionti of the Plain Dealer.

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