In November of 1901 the Regents appropriated $16,000 for the purchase from the city of Ann Arbor of the old First Ward school building, which afterward was known as West Hall. This simple brick edifice, built in 1862-63, stood on State Street, very near the site where Betsy Barbour House was later erected. University Hall, which housed the classrooms of the Literary College, had become so overcrowded that immediate expansion was necessary, and to relieve this situation additional classrooms were made available in West Hall. Although it furnished only 9,824 square feet of floor space, West Hall accommodated classes in English, modern languages, and forestry. Later, the Department of Rhetoric of the Literary College was the sole tenant. Professor Fred Newton Scott's seminar room, with its famous round table, was situated on the second floor of this building.
In 1923, the Buildings and Grounds Department razed West Hall, behind which Betsy Barbour House had just been erected. The President's Report for 1922-23 stated:
[West Hall] was never planned for the use to which it was put and of course has never been suited to it. Even its venerable age has not brought it qualities such as to endear it to students and staff. Its creaking, splintered floors, its steep narrow staircases, its small rooms, its lack of office space, are all things of which its occupants are glad to be rid. It goes without saying that West Hall was a fire-trap.