Whitney Hale


College: Libraries

Sesquicentennial Series: It's Time to Hit the Gym

Published: Jan 25, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 25, 2013) — In celebration of the University of Kentucky's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2015, the 42nd of 150 weekly installments remembers the dedication of the institution's first gymnasium.


On May 16th, 1901, at 1:15 p.m. the State College Cadets wheeled from Limestone St. onto Main St. and in front of the Court House, where they stopped. At 1:30, they moved on to Short St., in front of the lodge rooms of Devotion and Lexington Lodges, where they picked up the members of the Louisville Military band. The procession was formed and escorted by the cadets to State College, Lexington, Kentucky, where the cornerstone of the new gymnasium was laid according to the ancient rites of the order of masonry.


The cornerstone items were hermetically sealed in a copper box prepared for the purpose and after it was soldered shut the ceremonies commenced. The items placed within included: a copy of The Morning Democrat, May 16, 1901; a copy of the Lexington Leader, same date; a copy of the Morning Herald same date; a souvenir of the fifth-fourth annual conclave, Lexington; a copy of the bylaws of Webb Commandery; a copy of the bylaws of Lexington Lodge #1; a copy of the bylaws of Devotion Lodge #160; a list of the members of Lexington Lodge; a list of the members of Devotion Lodge; a list of the officers of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky; a paper 10 cent piece of federal currency; names of college literary societies; names of members of Greek letter societies; experimental station bulletins; a football souvenir; a souvenir edition of The Kentuckian; copies of the State College Record; a copy of “Brief Announcements”; copy of “Views of the college"; photographs of the faculty and others; postage stamps of the denominations of one cent, two cents, three cents, four cents, five cents, six cents, eight cents and 10 cents; coin silver dollar, 1897; half dollar, 1809; quarter dollar, 1900; 10 cent piece, 1900; five cent piece, 1900; one cent piece, 1900; bound volume of the publication of the chemical department (now Department of Chemistry) of State College during the past 10 years titled, “Researches in Chemistry”; college catalogues (or The Bulletin); and reports of the Board of Trustees.


James K. Patterson, president of State College, delivered a scholarly address referring to the struggles and ultimate crowning success of State College. At the close, the college battery of artillery fired a salute of three guns, and as the echoes reverberated through the air the cadets reformed into line, followed by the fraternity of Masons, and the march back to town began. Around 1,500 spectators witnessed the events of that day.


In 1901, the executive committee resolved to elect an instructor for the gymnasium who would be a member of the faculty but with only the power to vote on questions relating to the gymnasium and be styled professor of physical culture, earning $1,000. It was also ordered that all students would be examined by the physician and surgeon of the college who would report which students were able to do gymnastic work.


Female students were permitted to take classes or work in the gym, but only during the drill hour. No male students were permitted in the gym proper, baths or locker rooms during the times set apart for the female students.


Today the Gymnasium, also known as Old Gymnasium, is part of Barker Hall and Buell Armory.


This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections. Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or whitney.hale@uky.edu

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