Former Chattanooga Church Building May Hold Funeral Home


A longtime Brainerd landmark may soon undergo a revival with a former church property seeing new life as a funeral home."We'll let the stained glass shine again," said
Steven Ryan, who is trying to buy the property as an affiliate of Ryan Funeral Home in Trenton, Ga. 

The 2.8-acre tract at 4203 Brainerd Road was home to Brainerd Church of Christ for decades before it merged with another congregation.

If a zoning change is endorsed Monday by Chattanooga planners and ultimately approved by the City Council, work should start to open Community Funeral Services at the site by early summer, Ryan said.

Ryan said there are no plans to tear down the buildings, which go back to 1944 but are now vacant. 

"We're trying to keep the church in the current architectural condition," he said about the red-brick buildings. "We'll revitalize what's there. We want to bring back existing structures to life."

Chad Wamack, a broker with NAI Charter Real Estate Corp., said that after Brainerd Church of Christ merged its congregation, the location supported a Hispanic ministry,
though that has moved as well. Wamack said the proceeds from the sale of the parcel are to go to that ministry.

He said the chapel is "beautiful and lays out really well" for use as a funeral home.

"I believe [Ryan] has a good business model," Wamack said.

Ryan said he expects to invest well over $1 million in the project, including the purchase
price. He declined to say how much he plans to pay for the site, but it was listed for $345,000.

Ryan said he likes the central Chattanooga location. He believes the funeral home can serve
families from North Georgia to Ooltewah.

"It's easy to find," he said. "It's easy to get to."

The businessman said that with many funeral homes in the area corporately owned, his will
bring more of a family atmosphere. Also, Ryan Funeral Home in Trenton has a crematorium,
and the new Chattanooga facility can utilize that service, he said.

Wamack said the current chapel was built in 1965, and there have been other additions to
the former church over the years. A parsonage is located in the rear, he said.

Wamack said Ryan's plan is supported by the Belvoir Neighborhood Association.

Ryan, 32, said the Trenton business was started by his father and uncle in 1976. He grew up
and attended high school in Dade County, later going to Southern Polytechnic State
University in Marietta, Ga.

After earning a civil engineering degree, he was employed in Atlanta until about 2008 before returning to Trenton and working at the funeral home.

Ryan said he holds funeral director and embalmer licenses in Georgia and Alabama and is seeking those credentials in Tennessee. 

He expects the Chattanooga funeral home to initially employ about a half-dozen people and
then he'll grow the business from there.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.