Forbidden City Tour: Charles Schroer
With again much thanks to Downtown Mansfield Inc. and Preservation Ohio, the public was allowed inside to view the former Charles Schroer Mortuary. What seemed nothing more than a rather generic building along North Diamond Street in Mansfield, Ohio was actually part of the large Schroer business that at its height, occupied half of the block from East Temple Court to East Fifth Street.
The Charles Schroer Company was founded in 1857 by Charles Schroer Sr. in a small building at the corner of Diamond and Fourth Street. Schroer began building caskets and business picked up enough that a three-story structure was constructed in 1863 at 117-133 North Diamond Street. In this larger building was the family casket-making business on the first floor, and apartments on the upper floors – including one for Charles Schroer Jr. who was born in one of the nicely adorned units. He eventually matured and went to work in the family business, then renamed to Charles Schroer and Son. It soon became apparent that an extension of the business, into funeral directing, would be of sound fiscal sense.
In 1914, a fire-proof mortuary was constructed next door, and was the first fire-proof structure in Mansfield. An embalming and preparation area was constructed in the basement, which the body would be raised via a hand-operated elevator to the first level where a chapel was located. The body would then be raised to the second level to a viewing room where there was a large skylight.
In the 1930s, the mortuary was closed. The Charles Schroer Company continued on, selling furniture and carpet. On November 29, 1963, the Charles Schroer Company conducted its final sale of stock as it declared that it was going out of business. It was then the oldest business in the city.