Early in 1881, using $500 borrowed from his mother, Francis W. (Frank) Flanner opened a funeral parlor at 172 North Illinois Street in partnership with city hack driver John Hommown. Flanner, who had trained with local undertaker David Kregelo, likely offered the first embalming services in Indianapolis.

The two-story Greek revival building has a large, bow-front center bay with inset columns, which is flanked by two smaller wings.
Flanner & Buchanan Mortuary, 1940 Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

In 1884, the partners sold a one-third interest in the business to Peter Wright, who resold his interest to Flanner. Charles J. Buchanan, Flanner’s brother-in-law, purchased the Hommown interest in 1887, and the firm became Flanner and Buchanan.

By 1893, the business acquired the Kingan residence at 320 North Illinois and remodeled it as a mortuary. In 1909, Flanner and Buchanan purchased the first motorized ambulance in the city. Upon incorporation in 1911, the firm razed its old mortuary and constructed a new building containing the city’s first crematorium and columbarium (vaults for urns). The building also contained a Ymca. When Flanner died in 1912, Buchanan became president of the organization. Other family members who were owners over the years include: Paul H. Buchanan, Frank B. Flanner (nephew of Francis W. Flanner), Paul H. Buchanan Jr., Charlene Buchanan Keller, Donald B. Keller, Brian K. Buchanan, and Bruce W. Buchanan (who became the sole owner in 2014).

Flanner and Buchanan moved to 25 West Fall Creek Parkway in February of 1927, where its business offices were located until the late 1980s. The structure, designed by Fermor S. Cannon, included a study for clergy, crematory, crypts, chapels, underground garage, and pipe organ. Starting in the 1950s, Flanner and Buchanan began expanding its operation throughout suburban Indianapolis, opening its first branch in Broad Ripple (1954) and adding others in Lawrence (1973), Carmel (1983), and on the grounds of Washington Park East Cemetery (1990). Flanner Buchanan also has acquired existing mortuaries, including Zionsville’s Phillippi Mortuary (1955) and Farley Funeral Homes (1967). Locations were also added at Memorial Park Cemetery (2001), Downtown Indianapolis (2005), Floral Park Cemetery (2008), Geist Reservoir (2014), Oaklawn Memorial Gardens (2015), and Lavenia & Summers Home for Funerals (2016).

The company has diversified into management services, weddings, granite products including memorials and signage and has become a national master distributor of caskets and urns.

In 2017, Flanner and Buchanan was recognized as a 100-year founding member of Selected Independent Funeral Homes, the most prestigious trade organization in the country. The firm was also a founding member of the Cremation Association of North America, having opened one of the country’s first crematories in 1904. In 2019, the firm opened a new corporate office, crematory, funeral, and event center at 2020 Montcalm Street in the Riverside neighborhood of Indianapolis.

Revised February 2021

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