During the 1930's and until the mid 1950's funeral homes were not used for funerals and calling hours as we know it today. In fact, before World War II, it was a common practice to have a three to five days of visitation in the deceased's home. The funeral director would come into the home with his embalming and funeral service equipment and set a viewing room up in the front parlor of most homes. He would usually embalm and prepare the body right in the home. People would come in and out of the home to pay their respect to the deceased and to the family. In fact, the custom of presenting the family with food when a family member dies dates back to the early practice of home visitations. Due to the large number of people who would come, the family would usually provide food to their guest before they would return home. Friends and neighbors would take turns providing this food for the family during this period of time.
The funeral home before WWII was primarily used to transact business and for indigent services. Very rarely was the funeral home used for the general public unless the funeral director's family died or there was extenuating circumstances.
Matthew Herson used his funeral home in the early years to hold a lot of the services for his family members. In fact, according to M.J. Herson, one of the first funerals Matt Herson did was his own parents.
As the times changed, Matt Herson saw a growing need for the public using of the funeral home as a place to hold services and visitation. In 1955 he added an addition to the left of the building, enlarging the facility to become Ithaca's largest funeral home.