Encyclopedia Brunoniana

Marvel Gymnasium

Marvel Gymnasium was built in 1927 on Elmgrove Avenue across the street from the Stadium, and adjacent to Aldrich Field. The four-story Colonial style building of red brick faced with limestone was intended to be flanked by additions to house a swimming pool and an indoor batting cage. The gymnasium was designed by Clarke and Howe, with Gavin Hadden as consulting architect, O. D. Purington and Company the contractor. The first floor of the central part of the building was devoted to a large playing area, 125 by 178 feet, featuring three basketball courts and a suspended running track twelve feet wide and measuring 12 7/8 laps to the mile. The gym provided offices for the Department of Physical Education and the coaches as well as squash and handball courts, a wrestling room, a boxing room, a fencing room, and, on the second floor, a trophy room. The opening of the gym on the scheduled date of September 1, 1927 was delayed by strikes. It opened, unfinished, on December 16 with a basketball game against Harvard, and was actually completed in 1928. Brown won the opening game, 33-30, and the first balls were thrown out, one to captain John Heffernan ’28 and one to the Harvard captain, by Henry L. Aldrich 1876 and Charles T. Aldrich 1877, whose generosity had made possible the acquisition of the site for the gymnasium and the adjacent playing fields. The clock on top of Marvel Gymnasium was designed with the usual numerals replaced by A-L-D-R-I-C-H-F-I-E-L-D, the R being in place of 12 and the E in place of the 6. At first known as the Brown Gymnasium, the building was rededicated at the fourth annual Alumni Day dinner in the gymnasium on October 7, 1938, by Vice-president James P. Adams as a memorial to the recently deceased Frederick Marvel, which β€œfor as long as it shall endure ... shall be known as the Frederick William Marvel Gymnasium in memory of a loyal son of Brown who gave a lifetime in her service.” Marvel Gym celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in December 1977. The building had just had a major renovation, which cost about $370,000. Of that amount about $250,000 came as gifts, the largest donation being $156,000 from the will of Clifford D. Heathcote ’16. The seating capacity increased from 2,200 to 3,000 as the court was turned to run east and west and made ten feet longer to conform with regulation standards. With the opening of the Pizzitola Sports Center in 1989, Marvel Gym had outlived its usefulness and closed its doors in February 1989.