Old Red Gym
A few photographs of the University of Wisconsin’s Red Gym, now a National Historical Landmark, and one of the most recognizable buildings on campus.
When it was constructed in 1893, it was quite the visionary gymnasium and armory as described in an article printed in The Cardinal, the university’s newspaper. The cost of the building was exactly $122,058.48.
“The gymnasium covers a space of ground 196 feet in length and 106 feet in width. On the first floor on the west side are the commandant’s office, the artillery drill room and the bowling alleys. The office of the commandant is furnished with a fireproof safe for ammunition, etc., and is connected with the gun room on the floor above by a private staircase. The artillery drill room, which opens out of the office, has an unobstructed floor space and can also be used for classes in gymnastics or for a lecture room. On the other side of the building is the locker room which will contain, when completed, about 600 lockers. Back of this room are the bath and the dressing rooms. The center of this floor is occupied by a swimming tank, 80 by 20 feet, and varying in depth from 4 to 6 feet.
“The second floor can be reached by six different stairways. At the front and the west side are the main stairways which are wide enough for the use of the battalion in column of fours. Then a staircase goes up from the east side of the building, near the dressing rooms, and there is the small one from the commandant’s office. The third floor, however, can only be reached by two stairways in the southeast and northwest towers. The drill hall, which occupies nearly all of the second floor, is 160 by 93 feet, and has a clear height of 43 feet. In front of the drill hall is the gun room and a visitors’ gallery, reached by the main staircase, extends along the front of the room.
“The gymnasium proper, on the third floor, is 160 by 65 feet. A space in the center of the room where it is 26 feet high is enclosed in netting and used for a baseball cage. Outside of this cage the gymnastic apparatus, the rowing machines, etc., will be placed. On each side at a little lower level are two rifle ranges 160 feet long, and below on the outside is the running track of twelve laps to the mile. All of the available space in the building has been utilized. In the corner towers are several small rooms which can be used for offices, committee rooms, etc. Careful provision has been made for the heating and ventilation of the building. Fresh air will be forced over and between coils of steampipes in the center of the building and it will then be conducted to the various rooms so that the air in the whole building can be changed in a few minutes.”
Sounds just like your modern day health club. Right?