Davis Hall - Leavenworth, Kansas
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
N 39° 19.114 W 094° 55.007
15S E 334763 N 4353880
This marker is on the northside of 531 Shawnee in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Waymark Code: WMF5R5
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 08/27/2012
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member GEO*Trailblazer 1
Views: 5

The old Odd Fellows Hall in Leavenworth has been the home to Davis Funeral Chapel since 1911. The top story of the building was removed after a tornado damaged the building.

- Lawrence Journal World Website

Davis Funeral Chapel
part of Leavenworth's history
Leavenworth Times, date unknown
James B. Davis arrived in Leavenworth determined to support the free-state cause of Kansas. It was the winter of 1855. He was among the leaders of 300 Immigrants coming from Crab Orchard, Ky.

Some settled in Leavenworth, others made their way to the Oak Mills community of northern Leavenworth County. Death was the final reality in the newly-formed territory, so Davis and his son, Thaddeus, opened a manufacturing business Feb. 28 at 102 Delaware. He specialized in making coffins.

The business of death in those days was conducted quite differently than today, the current owner of Davis Funeral Chapel said recently.
"I would image they started to work the minute they got here," Davis Moulden explained. "People were dying all the time back then and they needed someone to take care of them in a respectful way."

J. B. Davis arrived in Leavenworth about six months after the town was founded in May 1854. The first territorial census taken the next year indicated the population of the newly formed city was 8,061. Davis became a manufacturer and dealer of furniture, coffins and metallic burial cases. Advertisements from the time boast of having "all sizes always on hand and furnished at the shortest notice."

The undertaking business was often associated with the furniture business in the early days of Kansas history. J. B. Davis and Co. also sold sewing machines by the time his business had moved to 410 Delaware.

Thaddeus Davis took up his father's business and assumed his place in the Leavenworth business community. He also was a close friend of William "Buffalo Bill" Cody. He remembered where Cody's father had been buried in the now abandoned Mount Aurora Cemetery.

When the famous showman would return to his boyhood home, he and Thaddeus would roam the Pilot Knob area searching for the long-lost grave of Isaac Cody.

After the turn of the century, Thaddeus' son, James d. Davis, opened his own business in the 600 block of Shawnee. It was another cold day in February when the Davis Funeral Chapel opened in 1909. The next year, James C. Davis purchased the present building at 531 Shawnee.

This Davis was known at "Big Hearted" Jim. He was a successful politician and served the city as mayor while the present city hall was constructed in the early 1920s.

"Jim Davis followed the golden rule platform in his campaigns for mayor and in his business. That's the way it's been run ever since," his grandson says.

Moulden's earliest memories are of his grandfather. As a boy, he lived across the street from the funeral home. The proud grandfather would take his daughter's only child over to the funeral home so he could be near him.

"I remember his funeral. When the big hearse drove by city hall, they tolled the bell at the fire station for him," Moulden said.

After this death, the responsiblity of operating the funeral home fell to daughter, Margaret, and her husband, c. E. "Pete" Moulden.

"Margaret Moulden was a true lady," her daughter-in-law, Debbie Moulden, said. "She was a graduate of Stephens College and taught school before she was married. She was a good person to work with and a good teacher. She never hurt anyone's feelings on purpose."

Debbie Moulden pointed to Margaret Moulden's community involvements including being elected the first woman to serve on the Leavenworth Waterworks Board.

"Those early days for my parents were some hard times," Moulden said. "That was the Depression and my parents lived in the castle across the street from the funeral home. They would hold wedding receptions and dinners in their home and do all the catering."

By the time Moulden was 14 years old, he knew what his future would hold. He graduated in 1963 from the Commonwealth College of Mortuary Sciences in Houston, Texas. He joined the business as a licensed funeral director.

LeRoy Fevurly was a young man some 40 years ago when he started working for Davis Funeral Chapel. He became a licensed funeral director and embalmer upon graduation from the Kansas City College of Mortuary Science.

Mrs. Moulden worked part-time during her early years of marriage while taking care of the couple's two daughters. During the past 10 years, she has served as a full-time administrative assistant.

"We are the oldest continously family operated business in Leavenworth," Moulden said. "I know we were the first in town to operate an undertaking business and that probably makes us the first in the state, too. That's quite a lot to live up to. "But we would not have been in business so long if we hadn't treated people right."

- Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum Website

Building Date: 1867, 1930
Style: LATE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURY REVIVALS: Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival
Functional Use/Type COMMERCE: Two-Part Commercial Block

This two-story, symmetrically massed, painted brick building reflects Mediterranean Revival influences of the early twentieth century. The building has a low, red tile, hip roof. Large brackets support the wide eaves. Between the brackets is an entablature containing painted panels of a contrasting color. Carrara glass panels, popular from the 1920s through the 1950s, cover the front elevation of the first story, extending to the window sills of the second story, and around the corner to decorate the end bay on the west elevation. Flanking the two slightly recessed arched entrances are rectangular casement windows with metal mullions and muntins. Wrought iron fretwork decorates panels below these windows. The second story on the Shawnee facade has three bays. In the central bay, two windows flank a wider, rectangular, double-hung sash window with eight-over-eight lights. Flanking this ensemble are bays composed of two rectangular windows with double-hung sashes and eight-over-eight lights. Brick piers separate the bays. The side (west) elevation contains seven bays. Brick piers separate the bays. The south end bay has no openings. The next five bays consist of recessed spaces created by brick piers that contain, on the second story, single rectangular windows with 10-over-10 light, double-hung sash windows. Below are slightly recessed brick walls. The end bay on the south has a large cast iron door surround with a pair of rectangular, eight-over-eight light, double-hung sash windows. The classical door surround incorporates cast iron panels coupled with slightly recessed fluted columns resting on piers. Above the lintel is an elliptical arch with supporting brackets. Flanking the door are brick pilasters capped with dentils. The door surround rises to the height of the second story. Recessed within the larger surround is a modern entrance door. A three-story addition to the rear has three bays created by single segmental arch windows with double-hung sashes on the upper stories. Below is an asymmetrical arrangement of a single entrance door with a segmental arch and a modern garage door. All of the second-story windows and the windows in the rear addition are replacement windows with snap-in muntins.

The appearance of the building dates to the c.1930 remodeling of an older building. Because of the retention of the character-defining elements such as the tile roof, wide bracketed eaves, brick piers, fenestration, as well as the original building materials, this building contributes to the District. The later application of Carrara glass panels has achieved significance as a historic alteration.

- National Register Application

Marker Name: Davis Hall

Marker Type: Other (Please identify in marker text)

Marker text:
This marker is on the north side of Davis Funeral Home - 531 Shawnee in Leavenworth. Text of the marker:

This building was the first site used by the I.O.O.F. in Kansas. The cornerstone was laid on May 14, 1867. Later renamed Davis Hall, the upper floor was used for local political meetings.

In 1975, the premises were included in the inventory of historic sites by the Kansas State Historic Society.

Since 1911 the building has been the location of one of the states oldest continuous business establishments, the Davis Funeral Chapel, founded in 1855 by James B. Davis, followed by Thaddeus Davis, former mayor, James C. "Big Hearted Jim" Davis, Margaret Davis Moulden, first woman elected to public office in Leavenworth and Clarence E. "Pete" Moulden.

In 1988 the Davis Funeral Chapel, Inc. is under the management of the fifth generation, Davis T. Moulden.

Leavenworth County Historical Society 1988

Marker Location: Leavenworth

Year Marker Placed: 01/01/1988

Name of agency setting marker: Other (Please identify in marker text)

Official Marker Number: Not listed

Marker Web Address: Not listed

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