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The Blond Lady of College Avenue - South College Gym Feature
It has stood along College Avenue for 84 years as a
majestic building made of blond bricks and red tile roof
shingles. Its history is as long and storied as any building
on the campus of Colorado State University. The building
known today as the South College Gym has been one of
the single most-used buildings in the city of Fort Collins
and although it is out-dated today, the gym and field house
is a shrine to 111 years of athletic history.

Known only as the "Men's Gym" for decades, the building
replaced the tiny and cramped Old Main Gym which had
needed a replacement almost since it was built. By the late
1910s or early 1920s, students poured out their feelings of
how much they wanted a new gym. The State Board of
Agriculture and Aggie Athletic Department tried for years
to replace the Old Main Gym and finally in 1924 the
wheels began to turn toward a new building.
Men's Gym
A Gymnasium is Born
In the fall of 1924, Harry Hughes and Dr. Charles Lory presented their plan to
build a new gymnasium, field house and swimming pool complete with locker
rooms and athletic offices. The State Board of Agriculture demanded that their
plan cost no more than $220,000 and that all "frills and ornate things be taken
out of the plan." In January 1925 the revised blueprint was accepted for the new
gym and later that spring construction would begin.

Harry Hughes originally wanted to place the new gym on the west side of the
rail road tracks opposite of Colorado Field, not just to be close to the other
athletic fields, but to reserve the former site of Durkee Field, and at that time the
site of the tennis courts, for a new football stadium he wished for in the future.
The Board over-ruled Hughes and decided to locate the new gym on the former
site of Durkee field and move the tennis courts to a spot behind the
administration building and later behind the new gym.

In the fall of 1925, the cornerstone was laid and one year later the new facility
opened for business. Inside the building had a swimming pool in the middle,
with the main gymnasium in the north wing and the field house in the south
wing of the H-shaped building. The athletic offices were moved into this
building from their former locations in Old Main. Locker rooms for all athletics,  
formerly in the club house built in 1912, were also moved to the new gym. The
field house had a large indoor track with dirt floor able to accommodate the
football team for practice in bad weather. When it opened, the building was the
most state of the art building for multiple athletic events in the state of Colorado.
Now known as the Glenn Morris Field House, the majestic blond bricked gymnasium,
field house and swimming pool has stood along College Avenue since 1926.
Clockwise from upper left: Inside the field house looking at the
indoor track in 1926, basketball game in gym 1927, the pool located
in the center of the building and a 1936 indoor track meet.
Top: Looking to the north at the former site of Durkee Field
before the gym was built. Bottom: Cornerstone ceremony of
gym construction fall 1925.
The gym and field house became more than just a venue for athletics
for the Colorado Aggies. By the mid-1930s, a
Collegian article labeled
the facility the "most-used building in Fort Collins." Everything from
car shows to balls and dances were held in the building. Each
academic quarter and later semester, the gym became the site of
registration for classes. Although done online today, until 1990
students registered for all classes in either the South College Gym or
Moby Arena.

During WWII, the gym was converted to sleeping quarters for military
men that trained on the campus and after the war the overflow of
students brought men sleeping in the facility until long-term housing
could be found. Every day, spring, summer, winter and fall, the gym,
field house or pool saw some kind of use. It was even the unofficial
home of Glenn Morris while he trained for the 1936 Olympics. Morris
is reported to have lived in the gym while his coach, Harry Hughes,
looked the other way since it was not an approved living quarters for
anybody.

In 1949, the gym became the site of the NCAA National wrestling
tournament. It was the first time a national event was held in the old
gym and one of the Aggies themselves, Don "Tuffy" Mullison, placed
third in the nation in that NCAA tournament. The gym was also the
site of the 1952 NCAA wrestling tournament.
The Most-Used Building in Fort Collins
Registration for classes occurred in the gym from 1926 until Moby
Gym was built in 1966. The gym also housed at one time or another
housing for soldiers, housing for students, car shows, conventions
and concerts. For many years it was the largest indoor gathering
place in Fort Collins.
The 1949 NCAA National Wrestling tournament was held in the South
College Gym as Don "Tuffy" Mullison placed third in the nation
during the event.
By the late 1940s, it became apparent that the gym was going to be too
small for the continually growing college. The heating system
continued to be a problem as fewer and fewer students were able to
watch basketball games inside the building. Although the track team
still saw its usefulness, other parts of the facility began to show their
age and inability to accommodate the school.

By the late 1950s the problem became worse as basketball coach Jim
Williams' teams won more games than ever in the school's history.
When Colorado A&M College transitioned to Colorado State University
the money for athletic facilities became more and more scarce. Not
even one quarter of the students in the school could attend basketball
games to see All-American Bill Green show his amazing basketball
talents in the early 1960s.

Finally, when CSU was not allowed into the Western Athletic
Conference in 1962, the alarm bells went off and Dr. William Morgan
realized the gym and football stadium needed to be replaced. In 1966,
Moby Gym (later re-named Moby Arena in 1988) opened on the west
end of the campus. All athletic offices, with the exception of track,
moved into the new building and the South College Gym became a
practice facility. Only the track team remained where they still practice
today.

With the varsity track team still based in the South College Gym, it
makes this location on the CSU campus the longest continuous spot
where athletics have taken place. From Durkee Field in 1899 to the
track team in 2010, the spot continues to serve Colorado State
University for athletics. In the summer young students visiting the
campus can be seen around the gym and in May of 2010 a second
generation Olympic oak tree was planted outside of the field house
where Glenn Morris practiced as a gift to CSU for the Olympic Oak
Tree lost many years ago.

The building remains a shrine to CSU athletics and when passers by on
College Avenue look at it, few know that so many Aggie and Ram
athletes have trained within its hallowed walls.

UPDATE: April 22, 2011

Glenn Morris Field House

On April 22, 2011, Colorado State University officially re-named the
South College Gym in honor of one of the greatest athletes in school
history. Now known as the "Glenn Morris Field House" the oldest
location for athletics on the CSU campus carries the name of a man
known in 1936 as the "Greatest Athlete in the World."
A Worn out Building
The gym became far too small for the growing university in 1960.

Time line of the
South College Gym:

1879-1899: The site is
described as "an
orchard of productive
apple trees, bordered
on the west side by a
cat-tail swamp."

May 1899: A new
athletic council allows
for the first athletic
field and military drill
grounds to be built at
this site.

September 1901: A
wooden fence is built
around the athletic
field and renamed
Durkee Field in honor
of Charles Durkee
who donated the
money to build the
fence.

September 1912: The
athletic fields are
moved to the
Colorado Field site
and the former
grounds of Durkee
Field are turned into
grass and tennis
courts.

January 1925:
Approval is given to
build the new "Men's
Gym" on the site.

Fall 1925: The
cornerstone is laid for
the new Men's Gym

February 28, 1926:
First Intercollegiate
basketball game
played in gym.

1935 to 1936: Former
Aggie great Glenn
Morris begins his
training by Coach
Harry Hughes for the
1936 Olympic
Decathlon in Berlin.
Morris lives in the
gym (unofficially) and
in August of 1936
wins the gold medal in
the decathlon.

September 2, 1938:
Flood hits the main
campus causing some
minor damage to the
gymnasium floor

1942 to 1945: The
gym and field house
are used less for
athletics and more for
military training. Men
sleep in the gym on
cots during the WWII
era.

Spring 1949: The
NCAA National
Wrestling Tournament
is held in the
gymnasium.

Fall 1951: The second
campus flood to reach
into the gym causes
minor damage.

Spring 1954: Coach
Bill Strannigan brings
home the first
basketball
championship in
school history.

Fall 1954: Jim
Williams takes over
the head coaching job
of basketball. He is
the last basketball
coach to work in the
South College Gym.

1960 and 1961: Rams
win the Mountain
States Conference
Championship in
basketball both
seasons.

Spring 1963: Bill
Green is named to the
1963 All-American
basketball team.

December 23, 1965:
The last varsity men's
basketball game is
played in the South
College Gym.

May 8, 1970: A
concert/Vietnam War
gathering in the gym
that night leads to an
unknown group of
people that
deliberately set fire to
Old Main.

July 28, 1997: the
worst flood in Fort
Collins history hits the
CSU campus causing
major damage to
nearly 1/2 of the
buildings. The South
College Gym receives
the worst damage in
its history and
requires major repairs.

June 2007: A
memorial service is
held in the gym for
legendary coach Jim
Williams, who died on
May 31, 2007.
Williams coached
11 1/2 years in the
South College Gym.

April 22, 2011
CSU officially
dedicates the name of
the building as the
"Glenn Morris Field
house" honoring the
man who made the
Aggies proud in the
1936 Olympics