Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Matthew D. and Loretta Smith Hall ("Smith Hall")

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Institution Name: Dakota Wesleyan University
Original/Historic Place Name: New College Hall
Location on Campus: north central part of campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1955groundbreaking; August 12
1955cornerstone laid; October 15
1956completion; dedication; October 20
Designer: unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Modern/post-WWII, Regionalist/Vernacular (Glossary)
Significance: culture, education, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: brick and sandstone
Walls: brick and sandstone
Roof: flat tar roof
ca. 1956academic department building (art)
ca. 1956other (student and faculty lounge and "Tiger Lair" snack shop)
ca. 1956administration
1956-present (2006)faculty offices (including President, Academic Dean, institutional computing, and university relations)
1956-present (2006)classrooms
1956-present (2006)library
1977-present (2006)chapel (Shandorf Chapel)
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (computer lab)

The first building at Dakota University, as Dakota Wesleyan University originally was named (1885-1904), was Merrill Memorial Hall. It was built in 1885 and destroyed by fire March 9, 1888. College Hall, erected on the foundation of Merrill Memorial Hall, was completed in 1889. It, too, was lost to fire on February 12, 1955.

New College Hall was built just north of the location where its predecessors once stood. Construction began in 1955 and was completed in 1956. Its unexpected design--five stories in the center, three stories to the east, and two stories to the west--is a tribute to the general shape of Merrill Memorial Hall and Old College Hall, both of which had tall central towers.

Originally, New College Hall housed classrooms, the art department, the library, faculty offices, all the administrative offices, student and faculty lounge, and the snack shop ("Tiger Lair"). As such, it was the heart of much campus activity.

New College Hall was renamed Matthew D. and Loretta Smith Hall in 1971 ("Smith Hall"). As other buildings were constructed on campus, many offices were relocated. The small chapel on the fifth floor was renovated in 1977 and renamed the Shandorf Chapel.

Smith Hall continues to house the library, classrooms, faculty offices, and offices of the president, the academic dean, and university relations. It also houses a computer lab and the offices of institutional computing. As such, it continues to be a significant part of the DWU campus, and it serves as a reminder of what DWU has lost, as well as the tragedies and losses it has overcome.

Smith Hall is a contributing (historically significant) building within a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Coursey, O. W. A History of Dakota Wesleyan University for Fifty Years (1885-1935). Mitchell, SD: Dakota Wesleyan University, ca. 1935.

French, Edith M. Dakota Wesleyan University. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1976.

Goering, Violet Miller. Dakota Wesleyan University: Century I. Sioux Falls, SD: Pine Hill Press, [n.d.].


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Last update: November 2006