Century-old Ballard funeral home likely to close

SEATTLE - The way in which families choose to honor their loved ones has changed a lot in the past decade, and Cameron Smock says what they've seen happen at Wiggin and Sons Funeral Home in Ballard is proof.

"More and more families we serve, particularly in Ballard, want to have ritual at some location other than the funeral home," says Smock, president of Bonney-Watson, which owns the longtime funeral home.

This is one of the reasons the family-owned company recently decided to put the funeral home up for sale.

"It is bittersweet in that Wiggin and Sons has a long and positive reputation in Ballard," Smock says.

Since 1914, Wiggin and Sons Funeral Home has provided funeral, cremation and cemetery services to families in Ballard. In 2000, Bonney-Watson bought the funeral home, continuing its operation along with its Capitol Hill, SeaTac, and Federal Way locations.

Sue Allegra, administrative manager for the Ballard Chamber of Commerce, says while she can understand why the owners of the funeral home have decided to sell it's always hard to see a local business go, especially one with such a long history of serving the community.

"They really took care of everyone's parents, grandparents, great-grandparents," Allegra says. "That's how long they have been around."

Smock says the decision to sell the Ballard property is part of the funeral company's long-term strategy over the next five to seven years. He says with the change in demographics, fewer and fewer families want to hold services in funeral homes, and past interest from developers meant the time was right to put the building on the market. But, that doesn't mean they're in a rush to sell.

"If we don't receive an offer we feel matches the value we place on the property, we will move the listing off the market," Smock says.

Based on comparable property worth in the neighborhood, Bonney-Watson listed the Ballard site at $6.2 million. Smock says more than likely the building will be torn down to make way for new development, and they've already received several calls from interested buyers.

If an offer does come through, Bonney-Watson will use the money to expand services at its SeaTac location, building a new event facility, as well as considering other investments in Seattle.

Smock says while the funeral company may physically leave the neighborhood, the sale of its Ballard property doesn't mean they're leaving the neighborhood for good.

"Our plan is to operate in a way where we can still serve families in Ballard who want to have ritual in Ballard," he says. "Whether we operate a funeral home at the corner 20th and 57th will continue to build on the Wiggins and Sons legacy and do our best."

Proposals for the Ballard property will start being accepted Oct. 18.