During his nine-year tenure, the Reverend Dr. William Smith, the first president of the College, set the highest academic standards for Washington College and saw to the construction of a massive college building that may have been the largest in Maryland at that time. That building was a predecessor of William Smith Hall.
The building constructed by Dr. Smith was destroyed by fire on January 11, 1827. Its successor, the forerunner to William Smith Hall, also burned.
The building that currently stands at that site, named in honor of the College’s founder, is an early twentieth-century classroom building, affectionately known as “Bill Smith.” During World War II, female students gathered to roll bandages in the basement.
Today, the building is wireless-accessible and includes seminar rooms and larger classrooms, faculty offices, and the Norman James Theatre, a 164-seat auditorium used for symposia, films, and student recitals. All classrooms are air conditioned.
A memorial plaque, hung in 2008, offers lasting tribute to Washington College’s WWII service members who made the ultimate sacrifice: “This tablet is dedicated to the men of Washington College who gave their lives in World War II.”