During the first half of the 20th century, the Carey Hand Funeral Home was the largest in Central Florida, serving a five-county area, including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Polk and Hillsborough. The modernized funeral home, built by the company in 1918, now houses — wait for it… — the UCF Executive Development Center in downtown Orlando!
In 1885, Elijah Hand moved to Orlando from Indiana and became the city’s first embalmer. He formed a partnership with E.A. Richards, the city’s first undertaker, and the two combined Richards’ furniture business with Hand’s embalming. Richards left the partnership in 1890, and the business was renamed Elijah Hand’s Furniture, Undertaking and Livery Stable.
In 1907, Hand’s son, Carey, a trained embalmer, moved to Orlando to join his father’s business, eventually buying out his father in 1914. He continued to run the business until his death in 1946. His wife sold the business the following year, and subsequent owners kept the Carey Hand name.
Carey Hand was the first funeral home in Florida to have a chapel, and housed the first crematorium built south of Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.
The building was used as a mortuary until 1992. It’s often a featured stop on haunted tours of downtown Orlando.
Read the UCF Libraries Special Collections’ history guide of the Carey Hand Funeral Home.