The August Poehlmann mansion as it originally sat at 6231 Lincoln Ave. (Circa 1920)
The Simkins Funeral Home was founded in 1939 as the Meyer Funeral Home by William A. Meyer. The original location was at 6235 Lincoln Avenue, Morton Grove, Illinois 60053, in the former mansion of the Poehlmann family, who in the 1920’s were the world’s largest rose growers.
When the depression caused the Poehlmann family to go into bankruptcy, the building went into receivership, and Mr. Meyer eventually started his funeral business in the building. In 1946,
Baxter International bought the property, and offered to give the building to Mr. Meyer, but he had to move it.
With the notion that Lincoln Avenue would not remain the area’s busiest thoroughfare because it basically ended at the entrance to St. Paul Woods, Mr. Meyer had the foresight to purchase property for the funeral home on Dempster Street. So in 1946, the entire building was moved and relocated to its present site at 6251 Dempster Street, Morton Grove, Illinois 60053.
Another view of the Poehlmann mansion. Notice the greenhouses in the background.
William A. Meyer converted the Poehlmann mansion into Meyer Funeral Home, and operated it from the Lincoln Ave location for eight years.
Two years after the move, in 1948, William Simkins, Mr. Meyer’s nephew, came down from Manitowoc, Wisconsin after graduating high school to work at the funeral home. One of Mr. Simkins’ primary duties was to drive the ambulance. Meyer Funeral Home operated the only emergency ambulance service in the area until 1967. In 1957, the funeral home underwent a major expansion that included a new office, restrooms, and chapel space that could accommodate three separate services or provide for one extremely large chapel.
William Simkins eventually married a local girl, Shirley Baumhardt. They raised their six children directly above the
funeral home. Three of the children, William Jr., James, and Michael followed in their father’s footsteps and joined the business.
William Meyer died in 1961, and his wife Anna assumed ownership of the funeral home while William Simkins ran the day to day operations. He eventually bought the business from her in 1973. At that time, Mr. Simkins changed the name to Meyer-Simkins Funeral Home. In 1980, the name Meyer was dropped, and the business was named Simkins Funeral Home.
The Meyer Funeral Home being moved down Ferris
Ave to its present location on Dempster Street.
The Meyer Funeral Home after the addition in 1957.
Simkins Funeral Home was renovated in 1995. The renovation consisted of a new funeral home entrance on the east side of the building to provide better access off of the parking lot, a new lobby, new restrooms, and redecorated chapels.
Three years after the renovation, in 1998, William Simkins, Sr. passed away. At that time, the third generation of family ownership, his three sons, took over the business. William Jr., James and Michael currently own and run Simkins Funeral Home.
In 2012, another major renovation to the funeral home was completed. This consisted of expanding one of the chapels to provide a much larger room for visitations and funerals. The north entrance was also redone to give our Dempster St. frontage a much more appealing look.
Meyer Funeral Home provided the only ambulance service in the area until 1967.