In 1911, Emmett McPherson along with brothers Frank and Perry Simmons of Monongahela, Pennsylvania established McPherson-Simmons Brothers. Aside from the fact that the trio were members of families with a contributing presence in Southwestern Pennsylvania that predated the region’s official colonial period, the three founded a firm that is considered by contemporary Pennsylvania historians to be one of if not the first minority-owned architect and general contracting companies west of the Alleghany Mountains. In little time, this architect and the general contracting firm would experience rapid growth due to its reputation as a one that prided itself on quality of craftsmanship and solid design work. By the nineteen forties, the company could claim responsibility for new construction, renovations, and the drafting of architectural plans for residential, business, municipal and religious denominations throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. A listing of clientele would include H.C. Frick & Company and the Pennsylvania cities of Monongahela and Donora. There would also be many collaborations with noted Pittsburgh architects P. Howard Sterling and George Wolfe.
By the nineteen fifties, Emmett McPherson and Perry Simmons would both retire from active participation in the firm. Perry’s son James, a member of the famed, all black, 301st Fighter Squadron having just returned from the war in Europe, would join Senior Partner Frank Simmons in the running of the firm. The institutional contraction of the American Steel and Coal Industries beginning in the nineteen sixties would force McPherson-Simmons Brothers to relocate to the Washington, D.C. area where a post-war boom in Government employment was fostering growth in suburban residential demand. James Reese Simmons would continue to head and operate the company as Simmons & Sons Architect and General Contracting, often collaborating with architects of color, Andrew Bryant and David Byrd.
Built upon a century old legacy that is rooted in history but not bound by historicity, McPherson, Simmons Brothers & Sons is headed today by Troy Joseph Simmons. From its Northern New Jersey studio, the company specializes in the design or renovation of religious and institutional spaces, the firm currently counts the Roman Catholic Archdioceses of Newark, New Jersey, Brooklyn, New York, Rockville Center, New York and the Episcopal Diocese of America among its current clientele