house was once a cabinet factory and a funeral home ...
... but you could not tell
by looking at it today. This is the house where I spent most
weekends during my exchange student year, when I was not at school in
Manhattan or traveling with my exchange family around the world.
Today's comfortable house looking over the waterfalls has an
The Zadock Pratt Museum
summer fundraising dinner is held here, overlooking the Huntersfield Creek
house on Washington Street used to be the cabinet factory in
Prattsville. It produced thousands of items for local
houses. Some are still around to be seen, one at the Pratt
The house is on the early maps of Prattsville. Local newspapers
carried advertising for the business. First, the amusing Jacob
Myers 1854 ad offering "as good an
assortment of Furniture as can be found in any establishment this side
of New York, and at exceedingly moderate prices. He would also
point out that his Furniture is made from the best of lumber. He
does not use the the rubbish of the lumber yard to make his Furniture,
and then palm it off upon those who may be no judges of the article as
first rate: but those who purchase of him may be sure of getting a
well made, good and substantial article."
Myers sold bureaus for $6 and up, French
bedsteads for $2 - $5, and all sizes of tables from $2.75 - $9. He
made chairs "at very low prices". Read the ad on the
right - click to see it larger size.
Myers ad ran from October 1853 to the following year offering
furniture and a new department, "ready made
coffins ... at very low prices. Having purchased a hearse and
fitted it up in a tasteful manner, he is now prepared to wait on those
who may require his services as undertaker."
The Mountaineer, 1854
The Prattsville News, 1869
advertised his CABINET AND CHAIR WARE-ROOMS in 1869. His
business, following Myers, sold chairs, dining tables, wash
stands, bureaus, book-cases and other items. He expanded
"The Undertaking Department !" "No pains
will be spared to make this branch of the business equal to any
in this section." Searles said he could
"guarantee satisfaction, with Ready Made Coffins Constantly
on Hand". Read the ad above right - click to see it
of Isaac Searles' desks is in the collection of the Zadock Pratt
Museum. Click on the picture to see a larger
signed the table bottom in 1866. Click the hot-spot on the
underside of the table to see the detail of his signature.
are other Searles furniture items still in Prattsville.
This chair, found in the barn at the Cernikovsky's house,
and restored, is thought to have been made by Isaac Searles.
Searles chair is owned by Mr Andrew Dresser, of Prattsville.
In the Pratt Museum, there is a chaise
lounge chair, often described as "the fainting
chair", made by Jacob Myers in 1855, who had the furniture
factory before Searles.
Ed Brown, in 1939, was
no longer running a furniture factory, but a full-time Funeral Home
(right). Al Shaver, after him, lived here - when there was a
funeral, he would empty his lining room and hold a funeral there,
replacing his living room later.
Fred Decker did not like that inconvenience. Raising a family, he
moved the kitchen and living quarters upstairs, while creating three
"viewing rooms" downstairs.
It was still a working funeral home when my exchange parents bought it
in 1985. They moved the kitchen back downstairs, opened the back
of the house to the waterfalls and blocked off two of the three garage
Tessie and Harold Shaefer across the street say they used to have some
good Halloween fun in the house, running between and hiding in real
coffins. The house is a private residence.
Brown's Funeral Home in 1939. Hand-written signs in the garage
point to where items were kept for "Studebaker",
"Hearse", "Ford Regular", "Ford S.S.Cord",
a "Dodge" and others.
Go to the Top
Our teenage website correspondent, Sona Grigoryan,
a 1999-2000 exchange student with
the Cernikovsky family. Sona, from
Yerevan, Armenia, attended high school and lived in New York City and
Here she is interviewing Barbara and Tomas Cernikovsky.
Sona wrote a series of
articles based on interviews with old-time residents,
glimpses of life in Prattsville.
The story of the Isaac Searles cabinet factory and funeral home
is another in this series of "2000