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.
In the spring of 1929, there were two fractions at war at the University. Those who were on Dr. Shields, President of the Bible Baptist Union (the organization that owned the school) side and those against Shields. After some tense exchanges between the trustees, the Shields fraction won their battle. As of June 4, 1929, all the faculty at Des Moines University were terminated. Anyone who wanted their job back had to petition the Bible Baptist Union Secretary, Edith Rebman, for their job. During these tense meetings, students gathered on campus. A few boys arrived with some unhatched eggs from a hatchery in town. The manager had looked the other way when the boys took them because he could no longer sell them. Those eggs ended up splattered on the administration building. Later they were thrown through the administration building windows as the students’ agitation later spilled over into violence.
The photograph above shows a policeman signing one of the eggs that might have ended up thrown on the administration building with the hopes of hitting Dr. Shields.
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.
After the riots, what was left of the archives of Highland Park College and Des Moines University were shipped off to Sioux Falls College which later changed its name to University of Sioux Falls.
I want to thank Chris Bechtel with sharing a photo marker at University of Sioux Falls. Chris’s dad was a leading representative of DMU’s alumni.
Thanks again, Chris.