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Smeltzer Hall was built in 1877 on the site of the college's original building, which was razed after the Civil War. (The original building was built in 1858, and Newberry College was temporarily located in Walhalla, SC, from 1868-1877.) From 1877-1895 Smeltzer served as the single building of Newberry College, housing all classrooms, a chapel, dormitory space, and offices. After Keller Hall was built in 1894-1895, Smeltzer was used for classrooms, housing, and office space; and when Holland Hall was constructed in 1904, Smeltzer was primarily used for men's housing until 1924.The structure was vacated in 1924 and stood empty and unused until it was renovated in 1930 to serve as a residence hall for women when Newberry College became fully co-educational.
Since 1930 Smeltzer has served as a women's residence hall, although some administrative offices have been located on the ground floor. In recent years the Chaplin's Office, Development and Admissions Offices have also had offices on the ground floor, and the College Nurse still maintains an office in the building. The main parlor serves as a site for receptions and other official social functions of the College and for the Newberry Community. Currently 33 upper-class women reside in 18 student rooms in Smeltzer Hall.
Smeltzer Hall is the focal point of the four-building Newberry College Historic District created in 1976 by the National Register for Historic Places. The other campus buildings in the Historic District include Derrick, Keller, and Holland Halls.
The oldest building on campus, the center portion of Smeltzer Hall is three stories with two-story wings extending on each side. Significant features include wooden cornice brackets and the original standing-seam metal roof. The front central section has segmentally arched, paired, 4/4-light windows with triangular and segmental pediments and supporting consoles surmounting the front door and windows on the first and second floor.
From 1877 to 1904 the building was referred to simply as the College Building or the Main Building. The Board of Trustees voted to name the building Smeltzer Hall in 1904 in memory of the Rev. Josiah P. Smeltzer, president of the College from 1861-1877. Some of the $15,000 Congressional Appropriation the College received in 1898 for the damage done to the Original Building by Federal troops following the Civil War was used for renovations in 1904 that included installation of plumbing.
After 1904, major renovations were in 1930, 1978, and 2001. The 1978 renovations included new wiring, heating, plumbing, and air-conditioning. But the outside of the Victorian structure and the reception room and other public areas remained basically unchanged to remind Newberrians of the long Newberry College history that Smeltzer Hall helped to make.