Anspach Hall, along with Brooks Hall and Pearce Hall, was constructed as part of a three-building academic complex on the south side of campus. Architect Roger Allen submitted plans for a new social sciences building by 1965, when the University requested and received funding for the project from the state legislature. The building would be constructed on the east side of Washington, west of the recently completed Brooks Hall and north of Washington Court. The Omega Construction Company of Grand Rapids was awarded the $2,410,000 bid in February 1965 and construction was underway by late spring. The cornerstone of the building contains a time capsule with front pages from contemporary newspapers as well as an essay from then-president William Boyd entitled, "Dissent: An American Tradition."
Plans for the 100,000 square foot building called for a central, three-story classroom section with a capacity of 1,960 students arranged in classrooms of various sizes. Two auditorium-style lecture halls were located on the east end of the building. The two-story west wing contained office space for the many departments moving into the building, as well as a mail room, faculty lounge, and department conference rooms. The larger three-building complex also included a 300-space parking lot to serve the new academic buildings, which was to be built between Washington Ave. and the railroad tracks.
An unusual conflict arose during construction of the building between the head of the History Department and the architects. Richard Wysong disagreed with the architects and Norvall Bovee, the University controller, over the placement of bookshelves. Bovee and Allen placed the bookshelves behind the door when it was open. Wysong argued that a historian's books needed to be accessible, rather than hidden behind the opened door. In the end a compromise was reached. In general, construction proceeded rapidly and on pace. Indeed, crews working on Anspach avoided a construction workers' strike that affected many other projects around campus at the time, since the union involved in the strike was different than that working on Anspach.
Anspach Hall officially opened in September 1966 and was dedicated on April 8, 1967. When it opened, it housed the departments of English, History, Political Science, Sociology, and Journalism. It also housed the offices of Information Services, the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, the campus newspaper, and the yearbook. It was the original home of WCMU-TV, the campus's educational television facilities, as well. Although Anspach Hall was as large as any building on campus, swelling enrollment led University officials to begin planning for a second social sciences building before construction on Anspach was complete. Moore Hall was the result of this decision.
The Board of Trustees approved a $14 million renovation to Anspach Hall in December 2011. The following summer, crews began work on the first floor of Anspach Hall and the west side entrance. The improvements represented the first formal renovation to the building since its construction in 1966. Clark Construction Company of Lansing was awarded the contract. A two-story addition that contained offices and a meeting room was added to the existing structure. The roof of the office wing was also renovated and a student lounge was built. The company replaced ceiling tiles and floors and updated the fire alarm systems. Crews also installed new lighting fixtures and updated restrooms so that they were in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Anspach Hall was named in honor of Charles Anspach, former president of the University. Anspach received his BA and MA from Ashland College in Ohio and his doctoral degree from the University of Michigan. He taught at Eastern Michigan before returning to Ashland as president. He came to Central in 1939 and served as president until 1959. In addition to his service to Central, he was a delegate to the 1962 state constitutional convention, served as a director of a bank in Mt. Pleasant, and after retiring from Central, served on the governing board of Eastern Michigan University. He also enjoyed speaking to high school commencements and various organizations. He and his wife Mary had two daughters.