PALATINE, Ill. — The windmill spinning in the parking lot may give away that there's a mini-golf course nearby, but you'd never guess just by looking at the Ahlgrim Funeral Home from the outside. Yet if you venture down into the basement, you'll find another windmill, inside what might be the most fun-filled funeral home in the world.
Ahlgrim Family Funeral Services started as a family business in Chicago in 1892. Inside the Palatine branch, you'll find chapels, lounges, and other more typical rooms on the first and second floors. But downstairs at "Ahlgrim Acres," you'll find the amusements that explain why it has been popular. There are pinball machines, a 9-hole miniature golf course, shuffle board, arcade games, and even a ping pong table among the entertainment. It's all Halloween-themed (of course), complete with some glowing skulls, but the overall effect is more fun than scary.
Doug Ahlgrim says his father added the attractions more for their nearby community, and not so much for their clients. The fourth-generation funeral director said the idea was born partially of born boredom.
"It was slow in the beginning years and he’s always had a love of miniature golf," Ahlgrim said. "[He] said, 'I have this large room downstairs, I don’t know what to do with it, so he started to build himself a miniature golf course."
Friends came to play and over the years word spread through Palatine. That’s when they decided to open it up to the entire community.
"We go through a lot, we see a lot, we see a lot of people go through a lot," Ahlgrim said. "Once that’s over... it’s nice to come here, to see the kids laugh, to see smiles."
Scout troops, church groups, birthday parties, you name it; so long as there are no funerals scheduled, a lot of life is lived in a building designed to deal with death.
They don’t advertise, but they have seen a number of adults do business upstairs who spent time downstairs as kids.
"We have had people come back that are burying their parents and grandparents and tell us stories about when they were a kid they came in," Ahlgrim said.