Our Historic Funeral Home
Smith & Kernke Funeral Homes
1401 Northwest 23rd Street
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73106
The 70-year old home of Smith and Kernke Funeral Directors in Oklahoma City has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was announced by deputy state historic preservation officer Melvena Heisch. The Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival building is the first home occupied by Smith and Kernke. It is located at 1401 NW 23rd Street, approximately two miles west of the State Capitol on the original Route 66. It was opened in 1939, when the firm was formed by Ralph Smith and Joe Kernke. Joe C. Kernke, Jr., son of the cofounder, joined the firm in the 1960's and began management of the funeral home in the 1970's .
We take great pride and satisfaction in this listing of our building. As one of only about four independent funeral firms remaining in Oklahoma County, Smith and Kernke has played an integral role in serving the people through more than half the history of Oklahoma City. While the interior has been redecorated from time to time, the original building remains the same as it was when Joe C. Kernke, Sr. and Ralph Smith opened it. All of the rooms serve the same basic functions.Harold Gimeno, an architect who has designed three other buildings that are now on the National Register, designed the building. "Because the building has been continuously used as a funeral home under the same name since it was constructed and is in excellent condition," said Heisch, "it has retained a high degree of integrity. It is an excellent example of the Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival style, and an excellent example of Gimeno's work.
It is a singular work due to its clear architectural expression and organization, its restrained but effective use of detail, and its use of landscape as an integral part of the design. The only added structure is a garage, which was built in 1950. The large art glass window and a gable-shaped end wall form a striking composition from the street. The original building features simple roof forms that delineate the separate areas of the chapel, work area, and entry. Arched windows are used in the chapel, and rectangular windows are used in the rest of the building. Landscaping includes evergreen, vertical planting, with a formal, sculptural quality, and a 1946 photo indicates many of the plants may be original.