Behind the building: Smith-Kirkley Complex

Sam Houston State University’s Smith-Kirkley Dormitory was named after Harriet Francis Smith and Bertha Kirkley. The Kirkley and Smith buildings were both bought in 1959. Smith Hall was bought for $22,500 and Kirkley Hall was bought for $5,500. Both properties were pieced together to make the Smith-Kirkley complex. The fifth floor dormitory was occupied on 1961. Harriet Francis Smith was born in Huntsville, to John Lyle and Sarah Murray Smith. She received her diploma from Sam Houston Normal Institute and her master’s degree from George Peabody College for Teachers. Smith was a geography teacher for SHSU from 1914 to Sept. 1, 1941, when she retired. She was a member of the Texas State Teachers Association, National Education Association, National Council of Geography Teachers, Delta Kappa Gamma and the co-author with Darthula Walker of ‘The Geography of Texas.’ Smith died on Nov. 27, 1958. Bertha Kirkley was born on Jan. 10, 1868 in San Augustine, Texas, to James E. Kirkley and Elizabeth Hollis Kirkley. She received her bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston Normal Institute. In 1981, she began teaching at Sam Houston as an assistant in Latin, mathematics and history. She was later elected the associate professor of history. Kirkley began the movement to acquire SHSU, a home and grounds for college. She was a member of the Outlook Club and participated in amateur plays and concerts to raise money for religious and civic organizations of the town. She died in Huntsville on Aug. 14, 1949.

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