The opening day of the Indianola Male and Female Seminary was September 24, 1860. The name changed to the Des Moines Conference Seminary in September 1865. On September 21, 1867 the school was upgraded to a college. Simpson Centenary College was named to honor Methodism’s most renowned living bishop, Bishop Matthew Simpson (1811-1884) and to celebrate the centennial of American Methodism. Matthew Simpson spoke at Abraham Lincoln’s funeral in 1865 (he was known as a great pulpit preacher) and gave the commencement address at Simpson in 1882. In June 1885, centenary was dropped from the name and we have been Simpson College ever since.
The first building was constructed on campus in 1861. It was known as ‘The Bluebird’ and then ‘Old Bluebird’ — the bricks were painted a lead color. It was destroyed by a storm in 1871; a large boulder with a plaque marks its former location on campus.
The Chapel was built in 1870. The Chapel, later known as old Chapel, is now College Hall. It was the only academic building on campus until the Administration Building was constructed in 1900. The Ad Building was located between the Chapel and Ladies Hall and it burned down in 1918 along with most of the college records.
Other buildings that have been removed include the Central Heating Plant (built in 1901 north of the Chapel; it was moved below ground between Pfeiffer and Dunn Library in 1962) and the Music Conservatory/Barrows Hall (1902-1983; it was located where the Barker parking lot stands now).