This 202,910-square-foot complex has three structures and is largely devoted to the Chemistry Department of the university. The first structure, designed by Barber and McMurry, was completed in 1929 at a cost of $180,000. On May 21, 1935, classes were cancelled from 11:00 a.m. until noon to allow all faculty and students to attend ceremonies honoring Dr. Dabney and the announcement that the “New Chemistry” building was being named for him—and all were expected to attend. At the ceremony, Colonel Cary F. Spence, chairman of the Building Committee of the board of trustees, presided. Dr. Henry M. Edmonds, a minister from Birmingham who had graduated during Dabney’s tenure as president, was the speaker. Dean Charles Ferris and Dr. Charles Perkins, who joined the faculty during Dabney’s administration, also made short talks.
The first addition, also designed by Barber and McMurry, required approval and allotment of the necessary steel by the National Production Board, which was obtained in early 1952. This addition, for which Johnson and Willard was the contractor, was completed in 1954 and included lecture rooms with electric periodic charts, on which individual sections could be illuminated, and lecture rooms with sloping floors.
Ground was broken in July 1968 for a second, six-story addition to add 107,000 square feet to the facility. As designed, the new addition contained a library, maintenance shops, classrooms, two large lecture halls, and 48 separate laboratories equipped with Pyrex pipes. In April 1970 the board of trustees approved naming the new addition for Dr. Calvin Buehler, longtime head of the chemistry department, and the facility was dedicated on May 14. V. L. Nicholson was the contractor, and Barber and McMurry was the architect for the $3,029,700 project.
The research laboratories within Dabney Hall are named in honor of Dr. Gleb Mamantov, and the auditorium in Buehler Hall was named in 1986 for Dr. David Shirley, former head of the Chemistry Department. The building was renovated in a multiyear, phased renovation, which began in the 1980s and culminated with the April 29, 1994, completion celebration that was part of the bicentennial celebration. A plaque honoring donors to the renovation was unveiled at the ceremony, and presentations were made on research and teaching in the twenty-first century.