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Old Gym Hall, 1897
Union College Schaffer Library,
Special Collections Picture File
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Old Gym Hall, interior, early 1900s
Image from Davis, Hugh Garnett.
A Memoir of Union College Life, 1903 - 1907.
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Old Gym Hall, early 1900s
Image from Davis, Hugh Garnett.
A Memoir of Union College Life, 1903 - 1907.

After years of complaining about the condition of the College’s outdoor gymnastic equipment, Union students finally were able to celebrate the opening of a dedicated campus gymnasium in June of 1874. Eliphalet Nott Potter (Union College Class of 1861 and College President from 1871 to 1884) may have even designed the building himself, while students raised around half of the $6000 needed for its construction. The gymnasium contained at various times an exercise hall (also used for dances), dressing and bath rooms, bowling alleys, an armory for the drill team, a tennis court, a small basketball court, and a batting cage.

Mrs. Perkins, who faithfully reported College athletic news to her son but had no particular reason of her own to be interested in a gymnasium, mostly mentioned the building in the context of obtaining money for its renovation. Despite several such renovations to the gymnasium over the years, students were still not satisfied with it. At the beginning of the 20th century, the hay stored on the second floor created dust below, and even the 1905 addition of steam heat, electric lights, improved showers and a new entrance did not end agitation for a better facility. When the Alumni Gymnasium was built in 1914, the old gymnasium was converted into a dormitory known as Old Gym Dorm. Old Gym Hall was eventually also occupied by a museum of College history, an art gallery, and the mail room until various administrative offices took possession beginning in 1951. The building now houses, and is known as, the Becker Career Center, the facility having been rededicated in 1981 in honor of Stanley R Becker (Union College Class of 1940), who funded extensive renovations that year.