Memories of Smith Kirkley residence hall
Dormitories being demolished
Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 01:07
Bricks, debris and remnants of dorm rooms now lay where four floors of Smith-Kirkley Hall once stood. The 50-year-old building, which has housed thousands of residents, will soon be history as the university took the first steps in a plan to expand student facilities.
Construction crews began the demolition of the residence hall on July 3 as a part of the ongoing tear-down to make room for new additions to the Lowman Student Center, according to a university announcement released in May.
"The student center fee increase will fund portions of a plan that includes demolishing Smith-Kirkley Residence Hall and expanding the Lowman Student Center," the release stated.
While the hall has not been occupied by residents for several years, the building has housed several other departments on campus in the past, including SHSU Dining Services, the Distance Education and Learning Technologies for Academics (DELTA) Center and offices of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Construction of Smith-Kirkley Hall was completed in 1962. It was an all-women’s dorm that housed 266 upperclassmen along with a reception room and dining hall. The building is named after Harriet Francis Smith and Bertha Kirkley. Smith was a geography teacher for SHSU from 1914 to 1941 while Kirkley taught as an assistant in Latin, mathematics and history from 1891 to 1941.
For former residents of the building, the hall was not only a place to live, but also a place of community, fun and memories.
"I met an amazing group of fun girls [in Smith-Kirkley]," said former resident Cindy Marion (‘78, ‘79). "I remember other girls from down the hall might use the albums to send shaving cream under the door of the rooms in Kirkley."
"Another time I remember being late to class because someone had tied all the door knobs together so everyone was stuck in their rooms!" she said.
Marion said while the girls had their share of fun, there were some snags to living at Smith-Kirkley. As a resident in Room One, Marion recalled several sleepy nights being woken up by residents knocking on her window to be let into the building after curfew.
Alumnus Donna Betto, who lived in Smith-Kirkley from 1967 to 1969, has memories of the hall from a time of political unrest.
"I remember watching protests of the Vietnam War at Old Main from the windows at Kirkley," Betto said. "It was very exciting to watch because the whole idea was so risqué at the time. Nothing like that really hadn’t happened before."
The students at the time also lived with even more strict rules than today, according to Betto.
"The dorm mother had a box of cards on all the female residents," she said. "The cards indicated instructions from our parents regarding permission for travel over the weekend. Many of us only had permission to travel home and we had no vehicle to do otherwise."
With the news of the demolition, both women remained positive about saying goodbye to their former home away from home.
"[Smith-Kirkley] is always going to have some sentimental value with me," Marion said. "But I am very proud and impressed with what the university is doing and how they are moving forward."
Betto agreed, saying she is a big supporter of the university’s progress.
"I think SHSU has such a beautiful campus and they’ve done a lot to keep it up," Beto said. "I believe it is good for the students."
University officials say the demolition of Smith-Kirkley should be complete sometime in August.