Rogers Funeral Home sees new ownership, restorations

Looking out of a third story window from the majestic Rogers Funeral Home in Milford, one can see a bustling road with newer vehicles where President Warren Harding once came through for a parade, a lake that was used for public swimming years ago, a road which led to a hospital for nearly 100 years and one of several entrances to the downtown area.

Its legacy spans almost 130 years. The Hovatter family from Glen Burnie, Maryland, knew they had to step up to the plate to preserve its splendor.

The home was built around 1890 by the Grier family. It didn’t become a funeral home until 1955 when the Rogers’ family bought the property. The home would stay in the Rogers’ family until the Hovatter family purchased it in early 2017 to continue working in the funeral business.

“My father owned a funeral home in Glen Burnie, Maryland. I grew up in the business and was taking over the business. But that area was just on a decline. When I grew up over there, it was like a town, like a community. And over the years, it had kind of fallen apart. I knew Perry [Rogers] and I liked this area. This reminded me of what it was, what it used to be,” Matt Hovatter said. “We had young children and I realized that we could make the transition.”

Joined by his wife Carrie and their children, the family purchased Rogers Funeral Home and quickly moved into the business after selling their family business in Maryland.

“I knew Perry [Rogers] through the business, we had mutual contacts. He was kind of in a jam over here because he wanted to get out and didn’t have anybody coming up behind him,” Mr. Hovatter said. “And I really enjoy restoring stuff and antiques. It seemed like the perfect fit.”

Although the home was move-in ready, the property needed a lot of work to bring it back to its original splendor, Mr. Hovatter added.

The couple changed wallpaper throughout the home, fixed areas riddled with water damage, replaced many of the home’s windows and fixed wooden floors around the house.

A small pond and gazebo that was hidden in an overgrown yard is now usable, as well, and front steps to the home were redone to ensure the safety of Rogers Funeral Home guests.

“Most of what the public would see is the exterior. We’re still not done, but we’ve gotten over the major hurdles,” Mr. Hovatter said. “We want to finish the front porch, the sidewalk that goes all the way out to the corner and Lakeview Avenue. . . We really like the history of Milford, the history of this house. I almost feel like it’s an honor to live here. We have an obligation to restore it to what it once was.”

Ms. Hovatter said the couple made the right choice by moving to Milford.

“We’re very happy to be here for one,” she said. “Back from where we’re from, people would let the door hit you in the face. No good mornings or acknowledging you or anything. We noticed that right off the bat. The interaction here is amazing.”

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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