Stuart Mortuary files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Stuart Mortuary Inc., a fourth-generation, family-owned funeral home on the north side of Indianapolis, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

The 70-year-old business is facing liabilities in the range of $500,000 to $1 million, according to documents filed May 30 with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Indiana. The company estimated its assets in a range from $1 million to $10 million.

Stuart Mortuary said it owes money to as many as 50 creditors, including $240,000 to the IRS and $115,000 to the Indiana Department of Revenue.

The filing says the mortuary also owes $109,000 in property taxes for the funeral business at 2201 N. Illinois St. and the adjacent Unity Center, a community gathering place and church that opened in 2012.

Other large creditors include the Batesville Casket Co., which is owed $290,000, and Zionsville-based Vasey Commercial Heating & AC, which is owed $18,000.

Mara Stuart, the mortuary’s vice president, who signed the Chapter 11 application, did not respond to requests for comment Thursday morning.

Stuart Mortuary was founded by brothers Joseph and Charles Stuart in 1948 and grew into an institution in the city’s African-American community. The business has handled funeral services for many of the city’s most prominent black citizens.

The company’s website lists 30 people who are on Stuart Mortuary’s staff or assist with services at the facility.

The Stuart family has larger historical roots in the Indianapolis business community. Stuart’s Household Moving & Storage Co., which has different ownership, was founded in 1936 by Marion Stuart, the brother of the mortuary co-founders.

The operation grew from a one-truck service in Indianapolis to a multi-state moving network. It was ranked as the 21st largest minority-owned firm in the Indianapolis area, with 26 full-time employees, according to 2017 IBJ research.

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