The name of Criss has been identified with funeral work here in the Newark area since 1894 when E.C. Criss, a native of Coshocton County, founded the business in May 1894 in Frazeysburg. He continued there for six months when he and his brother, David, formed a partnership and engaged in the funeral and undertaking business in Hanover on November 1, 1894. They remained there for eight years until purchasing the Newark firm of Orlando Boner and moved their business to Newark. They opened on April 1, 1902, on East Main Street in the room east of the Hotel Warden. Thus began Criss Brothers Undertakers in Newark. Criss Brothers remains one of the most prominent funeral businesses and the oldest in continuous years in business in the city.
In more than 110 years of operation in Newark, the business has occupied five locations. From the second location at 32 South 3rd Street near the Public Square, the business moved to 35 West Main Street where it occupied part of the Sears, Roebuck and Co. building. The business remained there for several years until the building of a new funeral home at 131 West Main Street, the first exclusive funeral home in Newark, which was completed in October 1921.
Following the death of David S. Criss, July 8, 1934, his interests were taken over by Joseph H. Criss and Richard V. Criss, sons of E.C. Criss, who had been associated with the business.
In 1937, the West Main Street place of business was remodeled and the chapel enlarged to give ample space for the new pipe organ which was installed by the Moorehouse, Bowman and Brandt Co. of Pittsburgh, PA and Columbus, OH.
The site for a new funeral home was acquired in May 1950 when Joseph H. Criss and Richard V. Criss purchased the old Kibler home at 9th and Granville Streets from the heirs of the late Mrs. Kate Kibler. Late in the summer the building was razed and the new structure was started in October of that years.
During the building of the new funeral home on Granville Street, a deal was closed March 19, 1952, in which the Newark Salvation Army acquired the West Main Street building from Criss Brothers, and located there prior to the opening of the new home of the business on May 19, 1952. The building is currently occupied by the Licking County Players.