In the days following the disastrous fire that destroyed the Training School in 1933, College officials began planning for the construction of a new building that would house the elementary school at which Central teachers were trained. $75,000 was authorized for the building's construction, the amount guaranteed by the insurance on the building destroyed in the fire. The new training school was designed by architect BC Wetzel of Detroit with the help of local authorities. The two-story building, which featured a steel-supported saddle roof, was only one part of a three-building complex planned for the site. A junior high school and gymnasium were planned but never added.
Groundbreaking took place in the late summer of 1933. Rozycki Brothers of Detroit were awarded the construction contract for $42,700. William M. Ackerman of Grand Rapids installed the electrical equipment and Bay City Plumbing and Heating Company also contributed to the construction. Because the Rozycki Brothers were members of the National Recovery Administration, a New Deal organization, crews were prevented from working more than 40 hours in a week, although this did not delay construction significantly. Excavation of the site was completed by October 1933, and the excavated dirt was used to level the training school playground lawn. Some of the undamaged bricks from the original training school were used for parts of the foundation of the new building. A large shovel and a hoist were brought in to be used on the construction. The new College Elementary School was scheduled to open in March 1934, but bitterly cold winter weather pushed that date back to May 20, 1934, at which time students and faculty began using the new facilities. The building was officially dedicated in January 1935 by President EC Warriner, representatives from the State Board of Education, and a speaker from the University of Chicago.
The new building had space enough for 240 elementary school children, including a five-room suite for kindergarteners on the northwest corner of the building. The suite had its own entrance and contained individual lockers for each child. Facilities for higher grades were located on both the first and second floors, and the building contained office space for faculty and teachers in training. There was also space for displaying the work of elementary students. The first exhibit displayed in 1934 featured pieces by fifth grade students demonstrating the work of Navajo Indians. A tiny snapping turtle and a giant terrapin were also present for the building's opening, having taken up residence in the fourth grade aquarium. By the fall of 1934, parents of the elementary students had organized the first PTA at the College Elementary School.
The new building went by many names during its early history. It was called the College Elementary School, the Laboratory School, the new Training School, or just the Elementary School through mid-century. In December 1960, school officials announced that the name of the old Elementary School would be officially changed to the Business Administration Building. However, when the new addition to Grawn Hall opened in 1966 and the School of Business Administration moved out of the building, the Old Elementary School was commonly known as North Hall. In May 1984, the Board of Trustees announced that North Hall would become Smith Hall, a name it retains to this day.
The building was named for Woodward C. Smith, a longtime administrator. Smith received his Bachelor of Arts from Central and his MA from Michigan State University. He taught high school in Remus, Trufant, Nashville, and Comstock Park before coming to Central in 1942. He served the College in many capacities: as an instructor, an associate professor, as the Assistant Director of Extension, the Director of Field Services, and finally as the Vice President for Public Services in 1956. He was responsible for the growth of Central's outreach programs in the 1950s, the ancestors of the current College of Extended Learning. He was also Central's first liaison to the state legislature. He was awarded honorary PhDs from Ferris and Eastern Michigan University. In addition to his work for Central, he served as the president for the National and Michigan Associations of Field Services and Extension Programs and for the Michigan Rural Teachers Association.