When my mother Alice was growing up, wakes were actually held in the homes. When a family member died, the funeral home prepared the body, placed it in the casket, and delivered it to the home. During the wake, friends and family would come to pay their respects. The wake was a celebration of life with food and drink.
My mother remembers her great-grandmother (Laura Washington) and grandfather (Joseph Brown) having a wake held in their home. Based on the time of the funeral, the body would be delivered to the home the day before, and be available until an hour or two prior to the funeral which was held in the church.