Just a few days after Sellars Funeral Home officially opened its second location in Mt. Juliet, the owner plans to hold an inaugural Candlelight Service tomorrow on site to honor the families they've served and commemorate the new location.
Owner Judd Sellars said years prior he held the annual Candlelight Service at Mt. Juliet Memorial Gardens, a cemetery he owns in Mt. Juliet. But after years of planning and nearly a year of construction, he felt it fitting the service be held in the new building.
"It's just such a beautiful place and we want those we've served to get a chance to see the new building," he said. "People will start to come around 3 p.m. and we'll have a short service at 3:30 p.m. and then give the families their glow candlesticks so they can head over to the cemetery to place them on their loved ones' graves. I am just so pleased to finally open the Mt. Juliet funeral home."
Expansion to Mt. Juliet
The Mt. Juliet site opened Monday, and Sellars said there would be an official grand opening after the holidays. This long-time Wilson Countian opened his first funeral home in Lebanon in 2002 and said he always knew he would expand to Mt. Juliet.
The Sellars have deep roots in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon. His father, Danny Sellars, is the preacher at Mt. Juliet Worship Center, and his grandfather also was a local preacher. Judd Sellars and his brothers played ball in Mt. Juliet in their youth. He graduated from Friendship Christian Academy.
"With both my father and grandfather in the ministry, it was just a calling that drew me into the business I'm in," said Sellars. "To branch out to Mt. Juliet, well, it was a perfect fit. We have a county connection."
Sellars bought the former Mt. Juliet Sellars Funeral home across from City Hall in 2006. He said they were able then to serve the entire county and far beyond and had a lot of loyal business. In a deal with the City of Mt. Juliet, Sellars swapped the original Mt. Juliet Sellars Funeral Home for city-owned land and the "vision for a funeral home like none other began to take shape."
During this same time frame a fire destroyed his Lebanon location and he rebuilt there with that same vision to bring both communities "over the top" places to memorialize the lives of locals' family members. The Lebanon location has a crematorium
Unlike 'anything in the country'
"I'm a pretty creative person," said Sellars. "There's not another funeral home in the country like the one in Mt. Juliet."
The 8,000-square-foot building has unique architecture with loads of polished wood, seemingly endless glass walls and windows, lavish ponds, water features and tons of natural rock. A massive eternal flame surrounded by gardens greets families, and upon entry there's a two-story, double tray ceiling with serene colors and leather and mahogany furniture. A massive fireplace dominates the space.
Manous Consulting and Cliff Carey General Contractors worked with Sellars on the project.
"I just wanted the whole experience to be therapeutic," said Sellars. "From nearly every angle you can see running water."
Along with the koi ponds and infinity waterfalls are brass fire bowls Sellars will light during visitation, and the memorial service that takes place in an extravagant chapel that has upper windows swirled in different shades of amber. Subtly placed in the ceiling of the chapel are thousands of LED lights that can emit any muted color the family requests. The last service Sellars organized the family requested a pink glow because that was their loved one's favorite color.
"If the family member was a Veteran we can use red, white and blue," said Sellars. "It's just a really nice touch to the service and like nothing you can find anywhere else."
Also, throughout the building are multiple large televisions where pictures of the person memorialized can be viewed.
"From initial comments, families just love the facility," said Sellars. "It makes the families proud to bring mourners here. I think it's the last thing we can do for them. It's a nice place to honor loved ones."
Sellars noted costs to families to use the facility and its services are comparable to other funeral homes.
"It makes me really proud we could get this together in Mt. Juliet," said Sellars. "I'm so glad City Manager Kenneth Martin had the latitude to see the bigger picture, and now we have one of the nicest, classiest outfits in the city. It definitely helps improve the look and feel of the center of town."
Retail component on same property
Sellars is in the midst of constructing a 7,000-square-foot retail center near the funeral home. The center will front North Mt. Juliet Road and have the capacity for seven new businesses. He said he's had "lots of bites" and interest from prospective businesses such as flower shops, restaurants and coffee shops.
"I'm going to be picky," he said. "I want places that compliment what we've already done."
On Wednesday Sellars closed on a deal in Hendersonville to construct his third funeral home. He hopes to eventually have multiple facilities in the middle Tennessee area. He said his business continues to grow each year.
"We are just so proud to offer something that's not found elsewhere," he said.
And, very soon Sellars plans to showcase his high-tech abilities at the funeral home. He said there are state-of-the-art outside floodlights that can light up the facility in any color.
"I want to take an evening both in Lebanon and Mt. Juliet and light up the buildings in blue to honor our local police," he said.
Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.