Upon their opening in the early 1960s, both dorms were regulated to women-only, though each became coed in subsequent years. Each dorm also was home to its own cafeteria, or dining hall. During the 1960s, students enjoyed the art of soapbox car racing by piloting homemade cars down the steep incline outside the building's western entrances.
In 2006, Kirkley underwent internal renovations to house various administrative offices including the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the University Advancement Phonathon, and other programs formerly located in the vacated Frels and Wilson buildings. Smith Hall, while maintained as living quarters, was not scheduled for use unless it was needed for an overflow of students. It was accommodating an extra 200 students at the start of the Fall 2006 semester; it has remained unused in subsequent years.
A Campus Master Plan update in September 2004 speculated the building would be demolished before the end of the decade . A further update in 2006 said the Board of Regents had given approval for its impending demolition . In 2009, it was announced that the building was on the demolition schedule as part of the 2008 Campus Master Plan .
An April 2012 Houstonian article revealed the dorm was scheduled for demolition later that summer, with the land potentially used to expand the Lowman Student Center – dependant on the outcome of the student referendum . Students voted in favor of expansion in October 2012.
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