Built in 1901 as a men's dormitory with space for sixty-five students, the Mary Ann Smith Building was one of the first to be equipped with heat, lighting, and indoor plumbing. It was designed by architect Frank Milburn, who designed all of the campus buildings from 1901 to 1915, and has a Flemish influence to its style, including rounded gables. It has the distinction of being the first building named for a woman at the university. Smith Building became a men's graduate student residence in 1927 and a women's dormitory from 1945 into the 1960s. Then it became an office and classroom building, which is what it is today, home now for the Department of Women's and Gender Studies.
Mary Ann Smith made a bequest to the university to support a professorship and scholarships in chemistry. The daughter of a wealthy Raleigh merchant, she married James T. Morehead in 1861. The marriage was not a success, and the couple separated. However, Smith retained the rights to her property through a marriage contract and disposed of that property in her will. In the 1870s she was committed to an insane asylum and eventually died still confined to an institution. She left two wills, and by the time legal issues were settled the university desperately needed new student housing, so the trustees committed a portion of it for that purpose.
Date Established: 1900
Date Range: 1900 – Present