|City/Town: • Opelika
|Location Class: • Residential
|Built: • 1870 | Abandoned: • 1989
|Historic Designation: • African American Heritage Site
|Status: • Demolished
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit
According to the few records that do exist, Ward’s Funeral Home was built in 1870, located on Avenue A in Opelika, and eventually became home to African American physician Dr. Eugene Anthony Lindsey and his wife Clara Brown Lindsey. Lindsey was born in 1882 in LaGrange, Georgia, and died in May 1955. In the 1923 Opelika City Directory, his residence is listed as being at 207 Avenue A. He moved to Opelika with his wife in the 1920s and was the owner of Lindsey’s Drugstore and Soda Fountain located on 9th Street in downtown Opelika, one of the few places where black citizens could sit and socialize while waiting for prescriptions to be filled. The drugstore changed hands in later years and continued operating well into the late-1950s. Lindsey’s contemporaries include Dr. John Wesley Darden, Dr. Frank E. Steele, and Dr. W.F. Clark.
It’s unsure when the Ward family came into ownership of the old house. What we do know is that Ward’s Funeral Home was established in 1953 by K. C. Ward and Christine Ward. K. C. Ward also worked for the White Angel Insurance Company. Christine graduated from Selma University and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Alabama State University before becoming an educator in the Lee County School District. She was also a member of the Alabama Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, Inc.; National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, Inc.; and East Alabama Funeral Directors and Morticians Association where she served as Secretary. Another location was established in Valley, Alabama by Jerome Ward.
The Opelika location was last used as a funeral home in 1989. Deteriorating to the point of becoming a danger to the neighborhood, discussions about its demolition were brought up to the city council three times since 2011. The son of K.C. and Christine Ward, Maurice O. Ward was the owner of the property and was given additional time to secure funding and to start repairs on the property. In October 2019, the city granted a demolition order of the structure, with its demolition occurring on November 13, 2019. Maurice Ward continues to operate the family’s funeral business from Valley, Alabama.