Up until 1927, the gym of Des Moines Universtiy was housed in the basement of the Arts and Science Hall. The ceilings were so low that basketball players had to bank shots off the ceiling to score (1). Dr. Frank E. Folk, president of the Alumni and Patron Club, pushed to get a more suitable accommodation for the athletes of Des Moines University (2).
When the school was sold to a developer in the 1950s, the gym was the only building to survive the razing. It’s been a number of things over the years including an auto store (3), and currently a daycare center.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will post several photos of the gym during different time periods.
(1) Cardaro, Tony. “Once Banked Cage Shots Off Ceiling.” Des Moines Tribune. Des Moines, Iowa: 28 January 1955, p. 16. Newspapers.com. Accessed: 17 October 2017.
(2) “Des Moines University’s New Field House to be Opened Tonight.” Des Moines Tribune. Des Moines, Iowa: 05 January 1927, p. 10. Newspapers.com Accessed: 17 October 2017.
(3) Lancaster, John. with photographs by Chuck Anderson. “Douglas, Euclid–A Big Change.” Des Moines Tribune. Des Moines, Iowa: 13 April 1982, p. 22. Newspapers.com. Accessed: 17 October 2017.
The photograph above was taken of Childs Hall in March of 1955. This was the final building to be razed due to an agreement between the remaining Lawsonomists and the developer so the Lawsonomists could find other housing.
President Longwell did not believe in college sports. He thought it took too much time away from a student when they should be focused on their academics. Longwell did believe in what he called ‘physical culture’. This amounted to all students participating in calisthenics before chapel exercises.
By 1901, Longwell had little say in the building of the athletic field, shown above. He’d been ousted during a change of management. By 1902, he returned to take control of the school once more.
Highland Park College, and later, Des University, would keep their football, basketball, baseball and track even through all the owner changes.
In 1927, the gymnasium was built a few blocks west of the athletic field. The gym survived. The athletic field did not. The land at East Douglas & Cornell was razed in 1955 to make way for home development.
Livingston, T. M. “Highland Park College.” Highland Park News and Advertiser, Vol. XXX, No. 10, March 8, 1955, p. 2.
Longwell, O.H. Autobiography., p. 104
The Piper. Annual. 1911.
The Tiger. Annual. 1920.