Littleton & Rue bringing new addition to offer more options for families

A new structure will soon make its mark along North Limestone Street, as ground will soon be broken and construction will get underway for an addition at Littleton & Rue Funeral Home and Crematory.

The local, family-owned business will be making a more than $2 million investment in a new building, which will be named The Landing and will be built near the current main building, says Rob Rue, owner of Littleton & Rue.

The modern-looking structure won’t visually match the current main building, says Rue, adding that the stylistic differences are because the buildings will serve different purposes. The new, lodge-style facility will boast large windows and an indoor fireplace in the gathering space. And, it will have an outdoor patio with a firepit where families can gather.

Rue says the plan is for people to have a warm ambiance when surrounded by the wood and stone that showcase hints of nature inside the building.

“We’re building this structure for the next generation. It speaks to the current generation also, but to really let the future know there is a place they can have a celebration, a memorial service, and have a space that doesn’t feel and look like a traditional funeral home that most people would have in their mind,” Rue says.

While all the traditional options will continue to exist as they currently do in the main Littleton & Rue building, The Landing will offer an on-site gathering space for families to enjoy time together while remembering loved ones either in place of traditional services or following traditional services.

“We’re been dreaming about this for over a decade, but the planning really started with a focus group in October 2020,” says Rue, adding that the study validated his hope that the new design was something that is both needed and wanted in Springfield.

The study consisted of a group of participants who were diverse in background, religion, age and more.

Rue says that through the decades, the way people gather after a death has changed.

“Generationally, people have shifted from what they look for regarding funerals and celebrations of life,” he says. “In the past, they were pretty consistent, but starting with the Baby Boomer generations, parents felt like, ‘Don’t make a fuss over me. I don’t want to be a burden.’”

While Rue recognizes that in some isolated circumstances, gathering might not be the best fit for a family, he estimates that more than 95 percent of the time, family and friends need the closure and healing that comes with getting together.

“A lot of families have not had memorial or funeral celebrations and have felt they were honoring their family member’s wishes, but also felt a little left out of the planning. They had to hang their entire experience on honoring the wishes of their loved one – which is important – but you still also have your own heart to deal with,” he says. “Having a physical goodbye following the death of your loved one can aid in the grieving process.”

Littleton & Rue has provided cremation services since the 1980s, Rue says, and at that time, they were only used following about 9 percent to 12 percent of deaths.
The national average for cremation is now at 52 percent, and Littleton & Rue is in line with that at 50 percent.

Rue says he expects the cremation rate to grow to between 60 percent and 70 percent in the next 10 to 15 years.

For a time, families didn’t often gather following a cremation, he says. But now, people are starting to realize the importance to taking time to share memories and be together and start healing as a community of friends and family.

The Landing and the new space it will provide can be an important piece to that process, Rue says. The new addition is expected to be complete in 2022.

In addition to the gathering area and kitchen space for celebrations of life, The Landing building will also house one additional crematory for humans and a crematory for pets, which will be in addition to Littleton & Rue’s one current pet crematory.

“We’ve been taking care of pets since the early ‘90s and have had a pet crematory, but we have seen an increase in pet cremation where people want their pets back to remember them,” Rue says.

The facility will house a larger pet receiving area where pet owners can come into a comfortable space to transfer care of a lost pet to a Littleton & Rue employee and look at memorial options for their pets.

“Losing a pet can be a hard time for people,” he says. “We have a space now, but this new space will be better and more specialized to provide families with the all the available options.”

Littleton & Rue is celebrating it’s 135th anniversary this year, and the combination of celebrating the past while looking to the future with The Landing building is not lost on Rue.

The business started as Littleton Funeral Home in 1886 before moving to its current location in the 1930s. The Littletons ran the business for two generations, and Rue’s father worked for the Littletons before taking the reigns.

Rue is the second-generation business owner in his family, and he co-owns the business with longtime funeral director Rob Kampman.

“Being private and local in this community is important, and in making this kind of million-dollar investment, we’re saying something to the community about our commitment here,” Rue says. “This is for Littleton & Rue to continue to serve the way we have always served this community and also to have relevant facilities that continue to be tastefully updated and modernized.”

Springfield firm McCall Sharp Architecture created the design for The Landing and was happy to take on this type of local project, says Steve Sharp, architect and principal of the business, along with Ed McCall.

“Rob was a good resource for us to create a design for a space to help provide for grieving families,” Sharp says. “Littleton & Rue wanted cutting edge architecture, something that would make a statement, something that people would recognize and people would want to go there.

“I think this will be one of the most exciting buildings built in Springfield in many years.”

McCall Sharp architectural designer Mohamed Abushouk created The Landing’s design and says much of the process was driven by ensuring the completed project would feel that it included both the past and the future.

“We wanted for the structure to feel like it honors the history of the existing building and makes the new building feel like an extension that is looking toward the future,” he says.   
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