History of Whelan Bros. & Hulchanski Funeral Home
and the building known as
Our history begins when Andrew “Dub” Whelan emigrated from Dublin, Ireland to Syracuse, New York. He received a New York State Embalmers Licensed in February of 1914 and worked as a “trade embalmer” for several prominent funeral homes in Syracuse. He married Julia Coolican whose family owned and operated Coolican’s Livery (Hearse) Service.
Both of his sons Jack and Edward, followed their father into the family funeral business. In 1933, under the guidance of their father Andrew brothers John “Jack” Whelan and Edward Whelan, opened a funeral home on South Geddes Street in Syracuse. When WWII, began Jack joined the US Navy and served his country. When Jack returned from his oversees duty in 1942 the brothers moved the family business to James Street, in downtown Eastwood and the business remained there for ten years.
In 1952, the Whelan brothers purchased A.C. Schumacher Funeral Home at 366 West Onondaga Street and the business became Schumacher and Whelan Funeral Home. The business name was changed in1972 to Whelan Bros. Funeral Home and major renovations were made to the building. During the transition, cousins John F. Whelan (LFD 1967) and Michael D. Whelan (LFD 1972) received their funeral directors licenses. They became the third generation of Whelan’s involved in the family funeral business.
In 1982, Donald A. Hulchanski, lifetime resident of Camillus, a 1975 graduate of West Genesee High School, and 1978 graduate of Simmons School of Mortuary Science joined the Whelan Bros. as an associate. Don worked diligently along side John and Michael Whelan for over 25 years. John and Michael Whelan moved the Whelan Bros. Funeral Home business to the Fairmount corners location in 1989, and leased the building at 3700 West Genesee Street. All this time the funeral business remained family owned and operated.
The “business portion” of Whelan Bros. Funeral Home was purchased by Don Hulchanski from John and Michael Whelan in May 2005. The “Hulchanski” name was added in 2007 to the business and the name changed to Whelan Bros. & Hulchanski Funeral Home. A phone call from a friend in October of 2009 lead Don to an ideal piece of property conveniently located less than ½ mile from the old 3700 West Genesee Street funeral home. “Victoria Park” at 5854 Belle Isle Road, had a unique history, it was the first state home for boys in the United States developed in 1883. It has a beautiful, quiet, scenic park like setting. This was an opportunity to move off the highly congested commercial corridor of the four corners of Fairmount. Don and wife Terri Hulchanski purchased the building and land from the longtime owner Mrs. Patricia Fatti in January 1, 2010 and the purchase was completed later that June. Renovations began on the new facility in August, and the interior was completed that December. The new Whelan Bros. & Hulchanski Funeral Home officially opened the new location the last week of December 2010 and the Hulchanski family moved into the buildings residence upstairs.
Our new location has everything, it is completely handicap accessible, a large wrap around porch, gazebo, kiosk casket display room, ample parking, two chapels, and a lounge.
Everyone who enters the building feels welcome, the soft colors and Victorian atmosphere has an essence of warmth that makes you feel as if you are at home.
In 2014 Whelan Bros. & Hulchanski Funeral Home will celebrate 100 years of service, family owed and operated serving families in our community with compassion and integrity.
In 1882, the State of New York purchased 87 acres of farmland for the sole purpose of developing Farm colonies for the mentally deficient boys who were previously housed in mental institutions. The idea was prompted by the (world famed) Superintendent of the Syracuse State School, Dr. Hervey Backus Wilbur, who in 1880, sold the New York State Legislature on the wisdom and need for such a community.
This colony enabled boys to live in a cottage under the supervision of a trained couple as a preliminary to their re-entry into society. The boys were assigned farming chores within the colony and upon proven competency, were allowed to venture “outside” of the complex daily, to earn a daily stipend while farming for selected families. Victoria Park, the original farm cottage, was actually constructed by the boys and staff, including excavation of the cellar and its foundation.
Victoria Park, commonly referred to as “The Fairmount Farm Colony” “Edwards Farm Colony”or Fairmount Farm Station” (probably due to its proximity to the Auburn Railroad which ran adjacent to this property), was the first farm colony established in the United States for this purpose. The success of Victoria Park prompted the acquisition of an additional 123 acres in 1895 which were converted into four additional farm colonies for girls, as well as boys.
In 1913 and 1914, “extensions and improvements” were completed. Local historians surmise that the center portion of the house is the original structure with the ends having been added in the early 1900's. The farm colony closed its doors and remained vacant for several years. The building was then used for “training purposes” by the Fairmount Fire Department for a few years.
In 1986 Victoria Park was purchased by Camperlino and Fatti Builders for its home offices. Careful attention was given to every original detail in its restoration. The house was first taken down to its original framing members to ensure a sound structure.
Highlights, reminiscent of the Victorian era, such as the gazebo, and carousel pony and horse were added by Camperlino and Fatti, and were not part of the original setting. The building opened August 23, 1987 and was leased to many local businesses for offices until 2009.
Donald and Theresa Hulchanski purchased the building and its property for a home and funeral business in January of 2010. Financing was received from Solvay Bank and the Greater Syracuse Business Development Corporation. They hired well known architect Paul Billings to help with the design of the funeral home and its parking lot. Expert builders Rich & Gardner were contracted to do the renovation and construction work. Carpenter Robert A. Reed made sure that every aspect of the design was carried out in detail in all areas of the building process. Close attention to wall coverings, carpets, draperies, furnishings and outside decor were a priority to create a warm, welcoming and home environment.