Woollen Gymnasium

Last updated
Woollen Gymnasium
Woolen Gym.jpg
Full nameCharles T. Woollen Gymnasium
Location300 South Road, Chapel Hill, N.C., United States [1]
Coordinates 35°54′33.65″N79°2′45.13″W / 35.9093472°N 79.0458694°W / 35.9093472; -79.0458694 Coordinates: 35°54′33.65″N79°2′45.13″W / 35.9093472°N 79.0458694°W / 35.9093472; -79.0458694
OwnerUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [1]
OperatorUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [1]
Capacity 6,000 (1952) [2]
Construction
Broke ground1937
Opened1938
Renovated2004, 2010
Expanded1942 [3]
Construction cost$646,000
(including swimming pool)
ArchitectAtwood and Weeks [4]
Main contractorsJ. A. Jones Construction Company (general construction)

Reliance Engineering Company (heating)

W. M. Wiggins (plumbing)
Tenants
North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball (NCAA) (1938–1965) [5]

Woollen Gymnasium was the home of the University of North Carolina's physical education classes from 1937, and the North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball team from early 1938. [6] The Gymnasium was named after Charles T. Woollen, Class of 1905. The gymnasium replaced the nearby arena colloquially known as the Tin Can. The Woollen Gymnasium was the home court of Tar Heel basketball until 1965, when Carmichael Auditorium was completed as an annex to Woollen, sharing the Gymnasium's eastern wall. [7] North Carolina won its first NCAA basketball title in 1957 while playing at Woollen. [8] [9]

Contents

The Gymnasium is still in use today, hosting classes, cross-university rivalry games, and intramural events, as well as providing room for the Roy Williams Basketball Camp in the summer. The old section numbers and ticket windows are still visible.

Background and history

While the Tar Heels played in Bynum Gymnasium and the Tin Can, university business manager Charles T. Woollen collected data on gymnasiums and swimming pools starting in 1918. [10] In 1927, an editorial in school newspaper The Daily Tar Heel wrote that "One of the urgent needs of the university which demands attention is the growing necessity for a new gymnasium to take care for the physical welfare of the increasing student body." [10] The Daily Tar Heel published an article each year advocating for a new gym. [10] In the spring of 1935, School president Frank Porter Graham and Woollen sought out close to $500,000 in public funds for the building of a new gymnasium and a women's dormitory. [10] [11] Initial efforts failed and Woollen returned to Washington D.C. and met with President Roosevelt; however, due to low unemployment levels in Chapel Hill the request was denied. [11] [12] Despite the rejection, Woollen persisted and North Carolina Public Works director Stanley H. Wright announced on October 24, 1936 that the university would receive a $283,090 grant to build the gymnasium and the rest of the required funds $346,000 would have to be raised by the school. [10]

Bids for the construction contracts started in January 1937 with a 30 day deadline for submission, [13] but the deadline was extended through March 9th. [14] On March 23, Wright announced the contracts for the building of the gym: J.A. Jones Construction Company for general construction, Reliance Engineering Company for heating, and W. M. Wiggins for plumbing. [15] The respective prices for the contracts were $415,957, $47,007, and $20,909. [15] Details were released regarding the buildings functions and specifications including the main gymnasium structure would be 303 x 175 feet (while the gym floor would be 250 ft x 150 ft), the swimming pool would be in a 220 ft x 82 ft attached structure with a swimming surface of 165 ft x 55 ft, a lobby that overlooks the gym from the second floor that houses the classrooms, offices, and fan rooms. [15] [16] The main gym floor will gave room for two varsity basketball courts, along with courts for volleyball, intramural basketball, shuffleboard, handball, badminton, and one tennis court. [17] The ground floor contained the locker rooms, squash and handball courts, showers, and treatment rooms. [16] The maple hardwood would be installed over a concrete floor to cover the entire first, main floor. [16] [17] The building itself was built with colonial brick and trimmed with limestone. [16]

Construction was to begin within two weeks of Wright's announcements of the contract, [16] which began with the clearing of trees on site with the goal of finishing the project by January 11, 1938. [18] Excavations were finished in May after weather delays in April. [19] By January 1938, construction had been delayed due for three primary reasons: around 2,000 cubic yards of blue granite had to be removed, which was more than anticipated; a delay in the steel delivery; and heavy rains in the first three months of construction prevented trucks from operating on the ground that led to nearly 20 work days lost due to rain alone. [20] [21] Arrangements were made for the presentation of the pool and gymnasium prior to their completion in March, for March 24 & 25; however, on the night of the 22nd, four students snuck into the gym and swam in the pool, which led the school to place Federal agents outside the facilities to monitor it until it was officially opened. [22] [23] The two days featured several meetings, meals at the Carolina Inn, and presentation talks from President Graham and ex–Governor John C. B. Ehringhaus, among others, while the building would be formally inspected on the 25th with Woollen as the honorary guide. [22] [23] [24] Then physical education professor Oliver Cromwell stated that the gymnasium "[enabled] the University for the first time to provide some form of healthful activity for every member of the student body." [25] The swimming pool was donated by Nathalie Gray, wife of the late Bowman Gray Sr., and her two sons Bowman Jr. and Gordon in his memory. [26] [27] The Daily Tar Heel reported that the gym could accommodate 6,000 people with the portable grandstands placed, [17] [28] while Cromwell stated the maximum capacity could be 8,000. [29] The final cost for the facilities totaled to be $646,000. [28]

In early April, rumors had been spreading that the facility would be named in honor of Woollen, leading officials to deny the rumors. [30] Graham stated his intentions to name the gymnasium and it was thought he would do so near commencement. [30] The first event to be held in the new gym were the finals for the men's and women's intramural fencing leagues, [31] while days later Georgia Tech's fencing team arrived to play the first intercollegiate match in the new venue. [32] The gymaniusm was officially named the "Charles T. Woollen Gymnasium" by the board of trustees after Graham had proposed the naming during a meeting in commencement. [33] In the fall of 1938, physical education courses started to be held in the facility. [34] President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke at Woollen before a crowd of over 6,000 people on December 5, 1938. [35] The event was to take place at Kenan Memorial Stadium; however, due to weather it was moved to Woollen. [35]

On January 2, 1939, [36] the Tar Heels hosted Atlantic Christian for Woollen gymnasium's first varsity basketball game, where the Tar Heels emerged victorious 57-19. [37] As the Tar Heels succeeded under McGuire, the student ticket distribution had to be altered due to increased desire. The tickets would be allocated for those with the last names between A to M would get tickets for the first home game and those from N to Z would get the next home game and alternate in that pattern. [38]

In 1962 the seating capacity was 4,500. [39] As the Tar Heels increased in popularity, the university chose to have home games at off-campus venues as Woollen's seating was so limited, [40] choosing to play in Charlotte or Greensboro instead. [38] In the team's final season at Woollen, the Tar Heels only played seven true home games. [40] North Carolina played 262 games in Woollen and finished with a record of 207–55 (.790). [41]

Since the Tar Heels' departure

For a period of time after the Tar Heels moved to Carmichael, the building was used for class registration before the advent of online registering. [42] The venue contains eight full basketball courts, [43] which led it to become a place where students frequent to play pick-up basketball despite newer courts opening up on campus. [44] [45] In addition, it has hosted intramural basketball leagues over the years. [46] The Exercise and Sports Science department is based in Woollen. [41] [44] In May 2004 Woollen was closed to have the original gym floor replaced with a new 35,000 sq. foot floor, along with the infrastructure and classroom renovations, as part of a five-month renovation occurred because a bond of $516,500 was given to the university for the renovations. [44] [45] [47] The floor was subsequently donated to a local Habitat for Humanity and all the proceeds from its sale benefited the organization. [45] The gym was officially reopened on October 6, 2004 with a ceremony that featured several former Tar Heels who played in the venue. [47] As of 2014, the courts still attracted over 150 people per day. [44]

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References

Citations

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  6. Powell 2005, p. 28.
  7. Powell 2005, p. 64.
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  9. Powell 2005, p. 4560.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Chansky 2015, p. 105.
  11. 1 2 "Mr. Woollen's The Man". The Daily Tar Heel. October 24, 1936. p. 2. Retrieved October 18, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  12. S.W.R. (October 3, 1936). "Bringing Home Bacon". The Daily Tar Heel. p. 2. Retrieved October 18, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  13. "New Building Bids Awarded". The Daily Tar Heel. January 6, 1937. p. 1. Retrieved October 18, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
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  15. 1 2 3 "Wright Gives Building Bids". The Daily Tar Heel. March 24, 1937. p. 1. Retrieved October 18, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
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  18. Jimmy Stoff (April 7, 1937). "Red Brick Wall Rears Its Head". The Daily Tar Heel. p. 1. Retrieved October 18, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
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  22. 1 2 Charles Barrett (March 24, 1938). "Presentation Program For Gym Opens Today, 1O'clock". The Daily Tar Heel. p. 1. Retrieved October 31, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  23. 1 2 Charles Barrett (March 24, 1938). "Presentation Program For Gym Opens Today". The Daily Tar Heel. p. 2. Retrieved October 31, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
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  25. "Cornwell Cites Benefits of New Giant Gymnasium". The Daily Tar Heel. March 26, 1938. p. 1. Retrieved October 31, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
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  28. 1 2 Lucas 2010, p. 165.
  29. "Cornwell Cites Gym Benefits". The Daily Tar Heel. March 26, 1938. p. 2. Retrieved October 31, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
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  31. Jerry Stoff (April 20, 1938). "Mural Fencing Finals Tonight Launch Gym's Campus Center". The Daily Tar Heel. p. 3. Retrieved October 31, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  32. "Fencers Meet Georgia Techs Here Saturday". The Daily Tar Heel. April 21, 1938. p. 3. Retrieved October 31, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  33. "New Gym Named For Woollen". The Daily Tar Heel. September 16, 1938. p. 9. Retrieved October 31, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  34. Chansky 2015, p. 106.
  35. 1 2 John Blythe (December 24, 2018). "A Look Back At The 80th Anniversary Of FDR's Speech In Chapel Hill". WUNC. Archived from the original on August 30, 2019. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
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  37. Shelley Rolfe (December 11, 1938). "Tar Heel Cagers Open Season Here January 2". The Daily Tar Heel. p. 5 & 6. Retrieved October 18, 2019 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  38. 1 2 Lucas 2010, p. 167.
  39. Quincy 1962, p. 3.
  40. 1 2 Quincy 1962, p. 55.
  41. 1 2 Kirschner 2018, p. 134.
  42. Maddie Ellis (April 11, 2019). "From Michael Jordan to drinking at 18, this is what UNC looked like in the '80s". The Daily Tar Heel . Archived from the original on August 30, 2019. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  43. Seth Pyle (November 11, 2016). "King of the Hill: Woollen Gym". The Daily Tar Heel . Archived from the original on August 30, 2019. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  44. 1 2 3 4 Bret Strelow (November 3, 2014). "Home Courts: Woollen Gym serves as link to past for UNC basketball". Fayetteville Observer. Archived from the original on August 30, 2019. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  45. 1 2 3 "Woollen Gym Floor for Sale at the Habitate ReUse Center". GoHeels.com. The University of North Carolina. May 28, 2004. Archived from the original on October 31, 2019. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  46. Chansky 2015, p. 96.
  47. 1 2 "Renovated Woollen Gym opens Oct. 6 with greats who played there participating" (Press release). UNC News Services. September 28, 2004. Archived from the original on July 28, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2008.

Bibliography