Gathering Space: Flanner Buchanan opens 12,500-square-foot Prairie Waters Event Center


Flanner Buchanan has a long history as a funeral home providing services to loved ones dating back to 1881. But it is now looking to set itself apart with a new gathering space designed for a variety of life celebrations.

In October, Flanner Buchanan unveiled its new Prairie Waters Event Center, a 12,500-square-foot natural stone-crafted facility that officials say can be used to host functions such as weddings, birthdays and other celebrations. The events center can accommodate up to 240 guests and also features an outdoor terrace designed to hold up to 90 people that overlooks a small lake.

“We believe that Prairie Waters is the new model that has bucked the trend that a funeral needs to be sequestered in a traditional design and decorated funeral home,” said Bruce W. Buchanan, a fourth-generation owner and CEO of Flanner Buchanan. “I’m proud of this innovation.”

The event hall inside the facility can also host small and large gatherings or banquets, while a long promenade hall can also be used for gatherings as well. Visitors can expect to find Indiana authors in books displayed on the wall that includes poet James Whitcomb Riley.

Buchanan said Flanner Buchanan bought the Westfield property in 1989 with the cemetery opening eight years later.

“We knew at some point we would build some sort of funeral facility here, and at the time we didn’t realize we would do more of what I would call a total events-facility approach, which is moving toward what people are really interested in today,” Buchanan said. “They want to do life celebrations and there’s ways we can integrate weddings and other community events into a space like this. It’s not a funeral home – it’s a community center, a celebration center, they can do funerals, they can do weddings and other civic events.”

Planning for the Prairie Waters Event Center began about five years ago with construction taking about a year and a half, according to Buchanan. He added that the vision for the facility is to not only serve Westfield and Noblesville, but the greater Indianapolis area and beyond.

“We think it’s unique enough that it serves a much broader regional area,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan said the overall design of the events center will allow a large crowd to gather for a meal. For a more intimate event, individuals can use the gallery space or outdoor terrace for different functions, Buchanan said.

“For a funeral company to basically become an event center has been an evolution for us, and what I’m very proud of is how we’ve taken the celebration of life concept and applied that beyond just a traditional funeral and really, we’ve almost flipped it,” Buchanan said. “We’ve become an event business that does funerals instead of a funeral home that maybe just tries to do events and we’ve gotten good at it because we’ve been at this for about 20 years.”

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