A historic Greek Revival building in Selma, Alabama.
The trustees of the Henry W. Vaughan estate purchased the building for $5,025 in 1904. In that same year they leased the former courthouse to a new school, the Selma Military Institute. The military school used the building until 1908, when it moved to what is now the administration building at the United Methodist Children's Home on North Broad Street. The trustees then converted the space into a new hospital, Vaughan Memorial Hospital, in 1911. The hospital occupied the building until 1960, when a new hospital building was completed on West Dallas Avenue. The building sat vacant and neglected until 1969, when the City of Selma, Dallas County, and the Selma Housing Authority purchased it for $82,500. This was done under the leadership of Joseph T. Smitherman, the mayor of Selma at the time. The facility reopened as the Historic and Civic Building on May 16, 1971. It was renamed in honor of Smitherman by the Selma City Council in 1979, for his role in preserving and restoring the building.
The three-story red brick structure is built in the Greek Revival-style that was popular at the time. It is most notable for its centrally placed tetrastyle portico, utilizing monumental Ionic columns. The exposed brickwork of the seven bay facade utilizes the stretcher bond, with a belt course between each floor. The pedimented portico covers the three central bays, with balconies at each upper level stretching the width and depth of the covered area. The wrought iron balcony railings utilize a design with an open diamond pattern, also known as a crowfoot baluster.
The building is now home to the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum. The first floor contains the museum's Civil War collection and documents relating to slavery. The second is dedicated to a political collection. The third floor is set up as a hospital, as it may have appeared while in use as Vaughan Memorial Hospital. Additionally, the museum has mid-19th century antique furniture, a collection of Native American artifacts, meeting rooms for clubs and civic groups, and parlors for social events.