This picture features the gymnasium to the right.
Although oscured by the trees, the gymnasium
displayed "Buell Armory" above the entrance for
passersby. The main
section of the building is labelled "Alumni
Hall." These buildings look much the same on the
outside as they did in this photograph
taken around 1909. Two sharply-dressed gentlemen
stand in the right archway of Alumni Hall.
This photograph shows a basketball backboard and
goal on the right. This gymnasium is where
University of Kentucky basketball began. The
women's team of school year 1902-3 played the
first full intercollegiate schedule (Cone, 1989).
Interested spectators at the basketball games
would stand along the balcony. The gymnasium was
designed to make use of outside light. Also,
notice the clock partly obscured by ropes.
Perhaps the clock was used to time the games.
In 1900, the General Assembly of the state of
Kentucky appropriated $60,000 for this building
and Patterson Hall
(Cone, 1989). The building, begun in 1901 and
completed in 1902, cost $30,000 and was
widely as "heated by steam and lighted by
electricity throughout" (Lafferty, 193?).
Students were envisioning important uses for the
building even before it was completed. A student
petition to dance in the armory or the gymnasium
was brought before the trustees who agreed to
allow the dances. Not only was there time for
dancing, but the building could accommodate
departments of physical education for men and
women and allow both to play basketball. Its
uses were still not exhausted - wrestlers,
gymnasts, and students involved in other indoor
sports used the gymnasium for the practice of
their respective sports (Cone, 1989).
The uses did not end with sporting activities,
however. "Four literary societies, two each for
men and women, conducted debate and oratory
sessions in rooms in Barker Hall and
(Cone, 1989). Of course, the building was also
used as an armory and headquarters for the
Department of Military Science (Lafferty, 193?).
Despite the usefulness of the Gymnasium and
Armory which is evidenced by the varied use of
the building, the gymnasium hindered the
comeuppance of basketball as a spectator sport.
The gymnasium was so small that, for all
practical purposes, no spectators could attend
the basketball games. Cone in The University
of Kentucky: A Pictorial History describes
the gymnasium as a crackerbox that hindered the
basketball teams' ambitions. Not until 1924
would a new gymnasium, Alumni Gymnasium, be built
Buell Armory was a workshop for recruits who
learned, among other skills, truck maintenance
and repair in 1918 during
War I (Cone, 1989).
In the fall of 1918, the gymnasium was turned
into an infirmary when the influenza epidemic
struck the University's campus.(Cone, 1989)
During the 1930s, the upper floor housed the YMCA
The mission of the Special Collections Research Center is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic, and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Materials are acquired regardless of format and include both primary and secondary sources; Kentuckiana is collected comprehensively. Special Collections maintains the records management program for all records generated by the University and serves as its archival repository for permanent records. As part of the mission, the Special Collections Research Center advances and supports the research, teaching, and scholarship of the University and beyond by preserving and providing access to its holdings.