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Field House (old)

The building was completed in 1914; cost approximately $18,000; destroyed by fire on November 4, 1923. The first building erected primarily for use as a gymnasium; also used for dances. Wooden facility located on a site approximately halfway between today’s Newman Library and Eggleston Hall. Dedicated Jan. 27, 1915. This article written in 1914 by Coach Branch Bocock describes the advantages of the new facility and all it would offer; it was published in the Bulletin of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

The New Field House

By Coach Branch Bocock


Field House Field House (Constructed 1914, Burned 1923)

Ever since the Virginia Polytechnic Institute has come into prominence as a state institution, there has been great need of an adequately equipped building on the campus affording the students an opportunity for physical development and recreation. Every modern and up-to-date educational institution offers facilities not only for the intellectual and moral development of its students but for their physical development as well. In this uniformly recognized feature of education the Virginia Polytechnic Institute has been far behind the progressiveness and efficiency manifested by institutions of its kind in other states.

The need of such a building has also been greatly felt by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Athletic Association, which is constantly on the lookout for suitable athletic timber among the student body from which to form the intercollegiate teams. The members of these teams at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, with very few exceptions, have been developed under the local athletic environment to that standard of ability demanded in intercollegiate athletics. It is a very rare occurrence for an athlete of intercollegiate ability to enter the Virginia Polytechnic Institute from another college, as is the case with universities and other institutions emphasizing graduate courses of study. Young men from the high schools and other preparatory schools and entirely locally developed material supply practically the total membership of Virginia Polytechnic Institute intercollegiate teams. In fact, nearly all of the young men taking part in intercollegiate athletics are products of local development, not having had previous athletic experience, or at most having had but very limited experience. This fact operates in an exceedingly prominent degree to emphasize the great worth of suitable local facilities to enable efficient development. Since the institution depends upon local athletic environment to qualify and develop practically all intercollegiate athletes, the more thorough and efficient the local facilities, the more efficient will be the intercollegiate teams of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

In March, 1914, a movement was started to bring about the construction of a building suitable to meet the immediate needs. This movement contemplated the construction of a field house on the college campus affording facilities for indoor games and gymnastic exercises. Formal plans for financing the undertaking were submitted to the student body and faculty and unanimously adopted. With the aid and cooperation of President Eggleston the plan was energetically pushed to a conclusion, and in two months active construction on the field house was commenced. The building will be ready for use by November 1, 1914, and will cost approximately $10,000.

The building will contain a large main room, 115 by 55 feet, furnishing a regulation basket-ball floor of 80 by 40 feet, with ample clearance space on both sides. This room will be equipped with gymnastic apparatus. On each side of the main room are situated two wings, 15 feet wide, affording facilities for locker rooms, physical director's room, trophy room, sleeping room for visiting teams, faculty club room with billiard room adjoining and ladies' retiring room. Immediately above the wings, at a height of 10 feet from the main floor and extending on each side of the gymnasium floor, are situated two balconies with a seating capacity of three hundred. There are four stairways with outside entrances to these balconies. In the basement are located the coal room, furnace room, varsity team room, rubbing room, shower baths, toilet room and storage room. A large covered porch extending along the entire end of the building facing the athletic field is another attractive feature. The building is a frame structure and is situated about sixty feet from the athletic field, and due south of the library building.

The funds to pay for this building are being supplied almost entirely by the student body and its friends on the college faculty. The Board of Visitors very kindly voted a contribution of $100 to the building fund. The undertaking is being financed by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Athletic Association, which for some time has been actively advocating this plan, the realization of which has been made possible by the student body and its friends, aided by the earnest support of President Eggleston.

The acquisition of this building marks a new era in athletics at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Not only will it serve as a great stimulus to intercollegiate athletics, but it will afford opportunity to a great number of young men, not qualified or disposed to engage in intercollegiate athletics, to attain a degree of physical development commensurate with their needs and desires. It is conservatively estimated that not more than twelve per cent. of the students of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute actively participate in intercollegiate athletics. The other eighty-eight per cent. are now offered facilities which they can utilize to advantage. Certainly every young man needs wholesome exercise. Moreover, arriving at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute each year are numbers of young men who are physically deficient. Their physical characteristics are not of the standard proportionate to their age and in keeping with their inherent possibilities. The usefulness of the new building, under proper supervision, to this class of young men is unlimited. Properly prescribed forms of exercise will correct, in nearly every case, these deficiencies before it is too late, and the individual will consequently be prepared for greater usefulness in life. There are also a number of young men who, while physically sound, are inclined to idleness and bad habits as a result of lack of aggressive encouragement and inducement to be otherwise. A continuation of this manner of living tends to encourage extremely unwholesome and injurious habits and to bring about a consequent atrophy of physical possibilities, to say nothing of resulting mental and moral delinquency. A healthy body, a healthy mind and a great, good soul summarizes the ideal man. Any encouragement to the attainment of this end is certainly worth while.

It is, however, a constantly recurring tendency of these strenuous economic times to overlook the importance of presenting to the young man every possible encouragement to lead a clean, wholesome and beneficial life. It should not be forgotten that the boy is father to the man. It will hereafter be the purpose of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute to encourage every student here to participate in wholesome, helpful and enjoyable recreative exercise. In this work the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Athletic Association, in cooperation with the administrative authorities, will take an active and aggressive part.

(Bulletin of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, October 1914, Volume VII, No. 4, pp. 56-58)