Oberlin Then and Now: Women's Gymnasium

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Historic photo of Women's Gymnasium  Present day view of Harkness Hall

Then: Women's Gymnasium, 1881, Now: Harkness Hall, 1950, Eldredge Snyder 


A brick structure, two stories in height, was built in 1881 located south of the Ladies Hall (Second). It was ready for use in September, 1881. Its cost was $8,000. The lower floor was used for gymnasium purposes, while the upper furnished dormitory accommodations for young women. In 1886 the entire building was given over to gymnasium uses. In the summer of 1906 the Rockefeller Skating Floor, built in 1895, was remodeled for gymnasium purposes at an expenditure of $7,500, and the two buildings taken together now constitute the Women’s Gymnasium. The main room is 90 by 50 feet, 18 feet high on the sides, and 28 feet high in the center, with a visitor’s gallery extending across the east end. [The Women’s Gymnasium served in various capacities from 1943 to 1948. The western part was torn down in 1948 to clear space for Harkness Hall. The rest of the building was demolished in the early 1950’s.]

Source: From the 1936 Alumni Catalogue and a set of building cards created by the College Secretary's office, both located at the Oberlin College Archives

Photo courtesy of Oberlin College Archives