Smith Hall is an academic complex that consists of Stewart Smith Hall, Evelyn Hollberg Smith Music Hall, the Birke Art Gallery, and the Communications Building. The building opened in 1967 and replaced a former naval barracks that acted as temporary classrooms. Smith Hall is named after popular longtime Marshall President Stewart H. Smith, who served from 1946 to 1968. Today the facility is utilized for many general education classes. It is home to many College of Liberal Arts and College of Arts and Media Departments, including the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the School of Music. Smith Hall also contains a student lounge, cafe, speech clinic, offices for The Parthenon, and the WMUL radio station.
Marshall experienced a large surge in enrollment during the late 1940s following the end of World War II. To accommodate the need for more classrooms, a former naval barracks was constructed in a low field to the north of Old Main. It housed engineering, math, sociology, language, philosophy, and military science classes. Referred to as the Old Main Annex, this frame structure was meant to be temporary but remained in use for nearly twenty years. It was finally demolished in the 1960s to make way for Smith Hall.
In 1963 the West Virginia legislature approved a $7 million bond to fund improvements and construction projects on campus. Around $3.8 million was allocated to build a large new Academic Center and Music Hall. Construction began with a groundbreaking ceremony on April 27, 1965 and continued for two years. Designed by the Huntington architectural firm of Dean and Dean, the complex featured an eight-story tower, a three-story music hall, and a communications building.
Smith Hall was named in honor of Marshall President Stewart H. Smith (1904-1982) and his wife Evelyn Marion Hollberg. Smith served as President from 1946 to 1968, the longest tenure in Marshall’s history; he was also one of the school’s most popular presidents among both students and the Huntington community. Marshall grew substantially under his administration. Enrollment tripled; new buildings were constructed; and the Graduate College was established. Smith zealously advocated for the state legislature to provide more funding, and in 1961 he oversaw Marshall’s transition from a college to a university. After twenty-two years of service, Stewart Smith sent notice of his resignation on November 7, 1967, effective the following July. Four days later, Smith and his wife were surprised at the dedication ceremony of the new Academic Center on November 11 when officials announced that it would be named the Stewart Harold Smith Academic Center and the Evelyn Hollberg Smith Music Hall.
Marshall University is on the move, but there are many things to be done. I would remind our administrators, faculty, staff and students that they are part of a great institution which knows no frontiers... -Stewart H. Smith
Today Smith Hall houses classrooms, offices, and other facilities for parts of the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Arts and Media. This includes the School of Music, the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and the Mathematics, Political Science, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Modern Languages, Communication Studies, and Communication Disorders Departments. The ground floor contains a student lounge, a café, the Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center, and the Birke Art Gallery. The Communications Building is home to The Parthenon student newspaper, the WMUL radio station, and the MU Report television broadcast station.