Construction to begin on Superior funeral home

The new Downs Life Celebration Center was designed to serve the bereaved under one roof.

Groundbreaking for Downs Life Celebration Center.jpg
A crowd gathers for a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, for the new Downs Life Celebration Center that will be built at 1902 N. 34th St. in Superior.
Shelley Nelson / Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — Construction is expected to begin soon on the new Downs Life Celebration Center.

Business partners Jeff Cushman and Steve Elsmore were joined by friends, family and others who helped make the project possible on Wednesday, May 17 to break ground at 1902 N. 34th St.

“This has been a long time coming,” Cushman said.

The Downs Life Celebration Center will replace Downs Funeral Home at 1617 N. 19th St. when construction is complete. Downs Funeral Home, built in 1955, is the first building constructed specifically to serve families grieving the loss of a loved one. Downs Funeral Home has been in business in Superior since 1888.

Cushman said they’ve outgrown the space at Downs Funeral Home, and the new 11,400-square-foot facility will better serve the community.


“The building that we’re going to build is something the community deserves,” Elsmore said.

The single-story structure will provide gathering space for 200 or more people. It will include a funeral chapel; a reception hall; and a large lobby with a fireplace and screens where overflow visitors can still see the funeral. The chapel will seat about 120 people comfortably.

The new facility will include parking for about 125 vehicles, and a portico on the east side of the building will allow for drop-offs at the main entrance. A portico on the north side of the building will be where funeral processions start.

Plans include on-site offices, a crematory and inside parking for privacy.

Construction of the new facility is expected to start in the next few weeks and be complete by the end of the year, but Cushman said his hope is to open in October if work progresses well.

“We are excited for this ground breaking,” Cushman said. “It signifies a milestone in our building process, but more importantly a step in the right direction for the needs of our community.”

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or
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