The story of Downtown’s Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home dates back to 1851, when Calvin Oak was told that his case of tuberculosis would kill him within six months. Instead of being mentally defeated by his diagnosis, Oak relocated from Vermont to Jacksonville for a new start at life.
In an environment characterized by fresh air and sunshine, Oak lived another 30 years and quickly became one of city’s most prominent citizens and businessmen. Oak became a manufacturer of guns, barrels and cartridges. His gun plant was hailed as Jacksonville’s first factory. He also acquired and operated a jewelry store on Bay Street.
In 1856, Oak went into the marble and mortuary business with his son, Byron. After Oak’s death, this business eventually grew into the Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home. In need of a new modern facility, architecture firm Mark & Shetfall were commissioned to design a new two-story, Prairie School style building on Union Street, just west of Main Street and construction was completed in 1914. In need of parking, a garage was built 12 years later that featured a roundtable, which enabled cars to drive into the building and then turn around to head back out to the street.
As time passed, the funeral home became the Kyle McLellan Funeral Home, reflecting the name of a new owner, S.M. McLellan. In the early 1990s, the business was purchased by the owners of Peeples Family Funeral Home in Riverview. Closing in on a century of continuous operation at the Union Street site, the Peeples family relocated the business to a five acre site near River City Marketplace in 2013.
A look inside the building today reveals how deadly our natural climate can be to abandoned man-made structures. Today, the Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home no longer preps the bodies our lost loved ones for their last viewing. Instead, abandoned and at the mercy of Florida’s unforgiving climate, the Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home is in the midst of a metamorphosis back into a natural state.
Text by Ennis Davis, MetroJacksonville.com