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The Simmons Funeral Home started out as a hospital-clinic built by local doctor David E. Clopper. The home was built in the Spanish Mission and Craftsman style, completed in 1927. After Dr. Clopper’s death, the building was purchased by undertakers George and Gilbert Simmons. The Simmons made additions to the property and ran their family business out of the building for over 125 years. They sold the building in 2007, and it is now used as senior care housing.

  • Simmons Funeral Home
  • Dr. David E. Clopper, who built the building as a hospital in 1925
  • Side view of the building, now Simmons Senior Villas
  • View of the front porch and architectural details
  • Closer view of the exterior terra cotta tiles
  • Side view of the windows and tile work
  • Southeast view of the building

Dr. David E. Clopper was a prominent local at the turn of the last century. He served as Argentine’s major in 1903, as well as president of the Argentine State Bank, a board member for the Board of Education for Kansas City, and as a surgeon for the Santa Fe Railroad. In the mid-1920s, he decided to expand his practice with the construction of a 20-bed hospital-clinic. Local architect Fred S. Wilson was chosen to design the facility in mix of Spanish Mission and Craftsman styles, with a brick façade, clay tile roof, parapet walls, iron ornamented windows, and a band of unique floral terra cotta tiles on the east and north walls. [1] The building was completed in 1927 for the considerable sum of $350,000. [2]

Almost immediately, Dr. Clopper had difficulties maintaining the hospital-clinic. He had been forced to mortgage his home for its construction, and the venture was never quite successful enough to recover his costs. After his death in 1935, the building was purchased by George Simmons and his son Gilbert. George had started an undertaking business with his brother Geddes in the 1880s, using their horses and wagon to move coffins and assist with burials. George eventually learned embalming and expanded the business into a partnership with his son in 1895, establishing the city’s first mortuary. After purchasing Dr. Clopper’s hospital-clinic, the father-son team redesigned the interior to include a chapel on the main floor and preparation/storage rooms in the basement. Gilbert Simmons lived in the building with his wife and children. [1]

The Simmons Funeral Home became a very successful operation. In 1952, an addition was made to the south end of the building. Both of Gilbert’s children, Marjorie and Howard, became involved in the family business. By the time the Simmons Funeral Home closed in 2007, five generations had worked in the business over the course of 125 years. [1] The building was accepted onto the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. In 2015, it was renovated and opened as a Simmons Senior Villas, a senior care facility run by El Centro, Inc, a non-profit that provides programs for the local Hispanic community. The building contains seven units as well as a small community space. The $5.5 million renovation project included restoration of another historic building owned by El Centro, Inc: the Argentine ATSF Railroad YMCA (see separate Clio entry). [2]

1.      Klocke, Jonathan. “Register of Historic Kansas Places – Registration Form: Simmons Funeral Home.” Kansas State Historical Society Website. Form prepared June 10, 2013. Accessed October 18, 2019.

2.      Rupert, Mary. “Historic Simmons building turned into apartments in Argentine.” Wyandotte Daily Online Newspaper. November 25, 2015. Accessed October 18, 2019.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Simmons Senior Villas Facebook Page,_Kansas_City,_KS.jpg