The Story Behind the Main Avenue Mortuary
Many legends surround the house on Main Avenue in Northport, but there’s one story that’s hung around.
History books only reveal a portion of the story contained inside the walls of the home located on 315 Main Avenue in Northport, Alabama.
Around 1885 English immigrant and Northport merchant, Richard Maxwell built the home for his daughter daughter Clara. Five years later, she married Charles R. Hamner and the house became their home. The union between these two families produced the historic Maxwell-Hamner name the home bears today.
Around 1902, Clara and Charles relocated to a larger home in Northport and leased their home to an Italian Immigrant, Ambrogio Becchino who converted the residence to a mortuary. Becchino had enjoyed a small measure of celebrity in New York due to his revolutionary, but controversial method of embalming. Records indicate Becchino moved down to the South in the late 19th century before finally settling down in Northport where he plied his macabre trade in the home on 315 Main Avenue.
Becchino and his family lived in relative peace and quiet until just before the Great Depression when it appeared his luck had began to turn. The mortician was first questioned by local authorities in the disappearance of railroad transients, but newspapers from that era suggest he was never considered a prime suspect.
In 1929, Ambrogio and his wife denied rumors they were illegally running a butcher shop and selling meat from the back of their home as some residents claimed.
By 1930, his neighbors patience had run out and some in the community began pressing authorities to investigate the source of the loud machinery Becchino would operate under the dark cover of night. Before the investigation could begin, he packed up his family and left town.
When Charles and Clara Hamner took possession of the home once again, a close friend was quoted as saying ‘putridness had practically overrun the rafters’.