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This horse-drawn hearse was operated by the Blanchard family funeral home out of Cedar Springs. The somber grey color, ornate wood carving, heavy draperies and silver urns in the large picture windows bring a feeling of dignity to the design of the hearse. Under the back doors is a battery-operated buzzer used to let the driver know when the casket was placed and the rear doors shut.

In the winter months, because the roads are not paved like they are today, large bob sled runners were placed under the wheels for smooth transport. The hearse was often used for funerals in Grand Rapids, which made about an 18 hour round trip for the driver.

This hearse was owned and used by the donor's grandfather, mortician Thomas Jefferson Blanchard of Sand Lake and Cedar Springs. In 1895 Blanchard purchased the hearse from A. B. O'Brien, a funeral home operator in Grand Rapids who also sold hearses for the Michigan Hearse and Carriage Company. The hearse passed down through the Blanchard family, and although their funeral business was eventually sold to the Walsh's of Cedar Springs, the hearse remained in the family. It was eventually donated to the museum in 1968 by another T. J. Blanchard, the grandson of the original owner.
circa 1895
Wood, Metal, Glass, Leather
89" h 72" w 171" d
Current Location Status:
In Storage
Collection Tier:
Tier 2
Gift Of Mr. T. J. Blanchard
Big Stuff (November 12 2011 – February 29 2012)
BIG STUFF from the Permanent Collection
An inspired selection of favorites chosen by the Museum Staff

For more than 150 years, the Public Museum has been collecting STUFF.  We’re the keepers of important “one for the record books” stuff; quirky “what were they thinking” stuff; fragile “from a bygone era” stuff; patent-related “don’t forget whose stuff this is” stuff; small to the point of being overlooked stuff; and BIG “how did you get that through the door” stuff.  In short, we keep track of history through the physical objects our society has amassed along the way.  
But stuff requires more storage space than anyone cares to think about.  As a result, a mere 10% of the Museum’s collection is on display here at any given time.  This is our attempt to correct that.  We’ve pulled back the dust covers, opened the drawers and invited Museum staff members into the archives to vote on their favorites in one category - BIG STUFF.  Conjure up all the adjectives you can come up with to replace BIG, then have a look inside!

Related Entities:
Hearse And Carriage Makers (creator) Blanchard, T. J. (donor)