An exclusive look inside the president’s house


by Erin Johnson, Staff Reporter

The Sigler House is home to President of Simpson College Jay Simmons and his wife, Jenné Simmons, and continues to be a staple in the college’s history.

Little of the original furniture is in the house. JennéSimmons said some of the furnishings were kept in storage, but she did appreciate a grandfather clock, located near the entryway of the house. The clock was specifically made by Marshal Field for the house and was a gift from the Carpenter family in 1987. Bishop Matthew Simpson’s bedroom suite was also moved to College Hall for storing some of the larger furniture.

Sigler House Hartmann

(Photo: Michelle Hartmann, Photo Editor/The Simpsonian)

“I just love all the wood,” Jenné Simmons said. “I am so thankful that over the years when they’ve done the house that they haven’t painted the wood because it’s beautiful, and I just think it brings out the charm of the home.”

The house still can be considered true to the American Craftsman style, popular in the 1900s, and was originally designed by the Des Moines architectural firm, Hallett and Rawson. The designs created by the Greene and Greene firm of California were also considered a model.

Jenné Simmons said that they spend most of their time upstairs in a room off of their bedroom and called it her safe haven. The only time they do spend downstairs is when they have guests over, she said.

Frederick Carl Sigler and his wife, Sara Eikenberry Sigler, originally built and lived in the house in 1907.

The couple later joined the college’s board of trustees and continued to support Simpson College until Frederick’s death in 1941 and Sara’s death in 1947. Their daughter, Helen, and her husband, George Carpenter, then resided in the house until Helen’s death in 1973.

Sigler House 2 Hartmann

(Photo: Michelle Hartmann, Photo Editor/The Simpsonian)

The house, located at 703 W. Ashland Avenue, also wasn’t the first home to the president.

Before 1939, the house was located on 710 N. Buxton Street. In 1938, the location changed to Girard and B Street, facing Buxton Park, from 1939 to 1974.

Following his wife’s death, George Carpenter had the house remodeled and restored for use by Simpson’s presidents. The first president to live there was Richard B. Lancaster.

“I think economic conditions have changed,” said Cyd Dyer, librarian and archivist, said. “Some presidents at institutions are expected to host a lot of large events there, so they need a certain kind of president’s house. I don’t believe those current restrictions have ever been put on here.”

Another charm of the house is the large tree in their front yard.

“I never thought about it falling onto the house until last year. A huge limb fell. It didn’t fall towards the house but it shook the house when it fell. I mean, people were running out of their houses and so forth,” Jenné Simmons said.

She went on to say that she still doesn’t think about the tree falling onto their house and is more concerned for the tree, saying it was either the largest or oldest tree in Iowa.