DeMaine's has been a local landmark in Strathmore as far back as people can remember. Originally a furniture/cabinet manufacturer, records show a Charles Washington operating the establishment in 1852 on the corner lot of Artman Street and Summit Avenue.
The huge building was built to last comprised of locally quarried lime stone and designed to have three levels and a basement. During its time as a furniture/cabinet manufacturer it employed a dozen or more craftsmen to fulfill the demands of its clients. So popular and artistically made, a DeMaine's piece was built to last and usually a family heirloom. History claims that the Virginia Governor Littleton Walker Tazewell ordered a desk to be made from DeMaine's prior to him moving to Richmond. Tazewell, however, was Governor of Virginia from 1834 to 1836 which would indicate that DeMaine's was operational well before the 1852 date.
What is not known is where the actual name DeMaine's came from. It is assumed that it was of the original owners which may have been prior to the 1834 date mentioned above. The name has never changed however even to this day with the current owner Theodore Rexpen transforming the once furniture manufacturer and funeral home into the areas premier nightclub in Strathmore.
The oldest records available record that the owner, Charles Washington, died in a tragic fire along with eight other employees in 1863. Believed to have been an accident from the machinery on the second floor others believe it was intentionally set by Southern loyalist who believed Washington was using the structure to transport escaped slaves to West Virginia and onto Ohio.
DeMaine's, while damaged, recovered and became the famous funeral home it was known for since 1870. It remained a funeral home till the later part of the twentieth century and during that long time almost every citizen of the town had either visited or use its services some even visiting and then becoming a client.
While never a scandal, DeMaine's seems to have had a string of unusual deaths that have occurred within the establishment or very close to it. The oldest known odd death was that of a young lady in 1933 who had apparently fell down the stairs from the third floor to the second floor. Rumors circulated that the young lady who had died had been having an affair with the recently deceased who's viewing was taking place on the third floor. Perhaps a lack of common sense or poor judgement; the young lady wished to see her lover one last time and showed up to the viewing. So enraged was the widow to see the younger attractive adulteress show up that many believe that while the widow was "escorting" her out that a gentle push to help her on her way may have ensued...
In 1952 during another viewing a little girl who had come to the funeral home with her parents became bored with all the talking and crying of adults and wondered out onto Artman Street in front of the building where she was struck by a passing motorist. She was brought into the funeral home severely injured and succumbed to her injuries shortly thereafter in her mother's arms.
In 1967 a family member of a deceased soldier committed suicide in Parlor A after seeing his younger brother brought home from Vietnam in a pine box. This same parlor would see a repeat of tragedy with another suicide in 1970 of a young widow wishing to no longer be of this world.
The last recorded odd death took place in 1977 in Parlor B on the first floor. After a family dispute and during the viewing a cousin of the deceased went to his vehicle in the parking lot, returned with a revolver and shot dead the brother of the deceased prior to turning the gun on himself. The reason for this was never known.
Having a legacy of odd deaths on top of the hundreds of dead souls brought to DeMaine's has given it the reputation that still remains today; that DeMaine's is haunted. Strange shadows, noises and the feeling of dread are the usual experiences one may encounter if alone within its walls. Since the reconstruction of the building several of the parlors and rooms have been changed or removed. A map of old DeMaine's and the new DeMaine's is attached.
Despite the building becoming a night club the rumors of it being haunted still abound. While some of the stories may be the result of a different kind of "spirit" there are those who have either worked there or have been in the establishment after hours that comment on shadows moving, the sound of footsteps or phantom machinery when no one is there and the disturbing uneasiness when one is alone in the basement.