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Introduction

Origins

The City

Collegeville (1887, 1895)
College Delta (1898, 1899)
Oakwood (1899)
Cedar Banks (1900)
College Grove (1903)
Fairview (1904, 1905)
College Heights (1904)

Charter of 1907

Avondale (1913)
Bungalow Knolls (1916)
Chesterfield Hills (1916)
Ardson (1919)
Ridgeley Park (1921)
Strathmore (1925)
Glen Cairn (1926)

The Campus

Chronology

1855–1870
1871–1885
1886–1900
1901–1915
1916–1927

 

Interactive Map

Sites on the National and State Historic Registers

Complete list of
Significant Structures

Sources

Gymnasium (1916)


Gymnasium Building, circa 1934. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Physical Plant.

In the early years of the Michigan Agricultural College, organized sports were virtually nonexistent—after all, “students who must work three hours a day in the field found less than the usual time or inclination for systematic athletic competition.” Nevertheless, informal games of baseball, soccer, and rugby frequently arose.[Kuhn, p. 134]

A year before the Armory did its part to alleviate the indoor space issue, the College in 1884 participated in its first intercollegiate athletic competition, a field meet at Olivet College. Four years later, it joined with Olivet, Albion, and Hillsdale Colleges to organize the Michigan Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association, which today is “America’s oldest collegiate athletic conference.” The M.A.C. Aggies hosted the first MIAA Field Day event from May 31 to June 2, 1888.[Kuhn, p. 157. MIAA website]

Yet even as M.A.C. participated in MIAA events, the Board of Agriculture was “not in sympathy with the development of Athletics at the college to such an extent as will lead to public competitive trials between the students of this institution and other colleges, because the Board believes there are pernicious results liable to come from giving so large a measure of attention as will be required by students to prepare for these competitive trials.” In 1892 the Board denied a faculty petition for an indoor gymnasium and a 400-seat grandstand on the drill field west of № 7, and further stated that “the necessity of giving attention to Athletics to contribute to the good health and physical development of students in literary colleges, does not apply to our institution,” clearly considering field work to be sufficient outdoor exercise.[Minutes, 6 Apr 1892, p. 620]

Around the turn of the twentieth century the long school vacation was moved from the winter to the summer, a change that promoted the school’s participation in both football and basketball. The Board, seemingly ignoring its prior concerns, used the proceeds from the sale of lots on College Delta to purchase land south of the river for use as an athletic field (now known as “Old College Field”) and had E. A. Bowd design a grandstand for it. Soon, intercollegiate competition, intramural sports, and the school’s increasing size meant that a large, modern Gymnasium was an unavoidable necessity.[Minutes, 17 Jul 1900, p. 424; 27 May 1903, p. 153]

The L-shaped building by E. A. Bowd, in Beaux Arts style of brick and limestone, was built in 1916 on a site between the old drill field (now Walter Adams Field) and the river, west of the Botanic Garden and near the site where the original Botany Laboratory once stood. It contained separate gyms and swimming pools for men and women, as well as other facilities. (Stanford & Dewhurst erroneously state that it “was originally the Women’s Gymnasium.”) The new Gymnasium also took over the public events role of the Armory, hosting—among many other festivities—the 1923 commencement ceremonies, which took place in the well-lit main gym on the second floor.[Stanford, p. 48]


1923 Commencement, in the Gymnasium. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.

Around 1940, following the dedication of Jenison Fieldhouse, men’s athletics moved to that state-of-the-art facility, and the older building became the Women’s Gymnasium. An addition in the International style to the south façade in 1958 was accompanied by a change in name, if not purpose, to Women’s Intramural Recreative Sports, or Women’s IM. (That same year saw the completion of the Men’s IM, now West IM.)[Kuhn, p. 361]

Today the Gymnasium is known as Circle IM, and continues to host intramural and special-events athletic programming.