Our History2020-02-27T16:24:49-05:00

Our History

Bruce W. Buchanan proudly represents a family business that has been serving Indianapolis-area families for four generations. What started as a small partnership has become one of the leading diversified funeral companies in the United States.

Bruce Buchanan

For more than a century, Flanner Buchanan has served the greater Indianapolis area with an unsurpassed commitment to excellence, and an unwavering dedication to the community. More than just a local business, Flanner Buchanan is an integral part of the community it serves, having grown up with the city, and so connected to it that it’s sometimes hard to tell where the business ends and the community begins. It’s a family business, and the family has always lived and worked in Indianapolis, from the city’s humble beginnings, to the present resurgence it’s enjoying.  We invite you to explore our visual timeline.

Our Beginning

Indianapolis was founded in 1821, and in 1881, Frank W. Flanner, Indiana’s first licensed embalmer, opened his storefront funeral establishment on North Illinois Street, with financial support from his father’s Civil War pension. Frank’s sister, Anna, soon convinced him to partner with her husband, Charles Buchanan, and with this partnership, Flanner Buchanan was born.

As the city grew, so did the business, expanding east and west, and then north and south, following the people as the city center shifted.


In 1926, Flanner Buchanan had the foresight to open a state of the art funeral home on West Fall Creek Blvd, at a time when the next streets over were still dirt roads. That funeral home was so different and unusual that the Indianapolis Star felt it was worthy of three full pages of stories, listing all the unusual features offered.

This excitement surrounding the new location wasn’t surprising, because Flanner Buchanan was already making a name for itself as an innovative company, and a leader in the industry. The first mortuary to employ a female embalmer, Flanner Buchanan was also the first to use electric cars for funerals, as early as 1903, and the first to own and operate a crematory. In 1913, the funeral directors joined the Cremation Association of America, invested in providing modern cremation service, and in 1917 Flanner Buchanan helped found the National Selected Morticians, an organization which is still highly regarded throughout the industry.

Every Life has Meaning

The heart of the business has always been its connection to people, and to socially relevant issues. Paul Buchanan, Sr. brought Goodwill Industries to Indianapolis. Frank Flanner concerned himself with issues of race and social justice, and donated land to help establish Flanner House, a social agency dedicated to helping underprivileged black citizens. When Booker T Washington came to town in the early 1900s and was unable to stay at a hotel because of his race, the Flanner family opened their doors to him, visiting with him at their family home, and accommodating him at the Flanner house. The Flanner House is still very active, and its mission is to “support, advocate for and empower individuals, children and families by applying educational, social and economic resources that move members of the community towards stabilization, and self-sufficiency.” Today, Flanner Buchanan serves a wide cross section of the community, welcoming people of every ethnicity, culture, and creed, and striving to meet their needs, no matter what their customs or beliefs. The company is a sponsor of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful,  OASIS, many area schools, and many other community service organizations and efforts. Flanner Buchanan’s focus, as always, is serving the people of our community, in a meaningful way.

Expansion of Services

A funeral is not the only occasion that warrants the involvement of a Flanner Buchanan property. The company routinely hosts community events onsite, whether for church or community groups, senior organizations, or even special events like a jazz festival. Beautiful and stately, the Flanner Buchanan properties have also become a hotspot for weddings and other catered events. Masterful event coordinators, Flanner Buchanan provides not only a beautiful setting for a special occasion, but also tables, linens, and other niceties to make people feel welcome, comfortable, and at ease.

The Community Life Center is a particularly spectacular location for a formal event, like a wedding. Entering the rotunda, guests are immediately taken with the grandeur of the imported Italian marble floor and pillars, as well as the serene fountain that provides an elegant backdrop, should you wish to use the rotunda for your ceremony. The Buchanan Ballroom is a perfect spot for receptions with tall windows, vaulted ceilings, wood columns, and beautiful crystal chandeliers. For those in search of an outdoor venue, the Crystal Tower and adjoining Courtyard provide a breath-taking option. The Crystal Tower, with its 40,000 crystal chandelier, makes for a wonderful bridal entrance, and the courtyard surrounds up to 300 guests with lovely seasonal flowers. Because it’s located only twenty minutes from downtown, the Community Life Center is a convenient asset to the Indianapolis community.

Commitment, Connection, Community.

Flanner Buchanan serves the Indianapolis area, because the roots of the company are inextricably entwined with the town and its people. Always looking for better ways to serve, the company has diversified, and is now affiliated with a casket business and a monument company. This allows Flanner Buchanan to control their own pricing, and prevent costs from becoming prohibitive.

The Future

Not content to rest on the laurels of a rich and storied history, Flanner Buchanan remains a vibrant and forward thinking entity. Today, the business is changing with the times. Green funerals are now available, for those who are dedicated to environmental protection and want that to be part of their legacy. All of the Flanner Buchanan properties are continually being improved and modernized, to keep up with the needs of those they serve. In these facilities, the talented and compassionate Flanner Buchanan staff works hard to create life honoring tributes, designed to be unique celebrations of lives well lived.

A service at Flanner Buchanan is about more than just cremation or embalming. It’s about families and connection, about spending time together in a relaxed way in a welcoming setting where reunions are facilitated, relationships are renewed. Ceremonial experts, the staff at Flanner Buchanan is always exploring new ways to celebrate life, and honor those who have lived it. For more information about Flanner Buchanan, or to learn about pre-planning and its financial, emotional, and psychological benefits to your family, contact us, request free information or stop by today.