The Past Future of the University of Wyoming’s Half Acre Gym

Man is of mind and body formed for deeds of high resolve — Percy Bysshe Shelley

So reads the words etched over the entrance of the old gymnasium on the campus of the University of Wyoming. This fall, UW is working towards the completion of Phase I of a renovation of Half Acre Gym on campus, which included the demolition and rebuilding of half of the historic building. The west half of the building was saved and is being remodeled, along with the new east portion, to house modern fitness and wellness facilities.

Half Acre Gym (WSA BCR state government buildings survey photo album, ca 1931)

Half Acre Gym soon after completion. You can see a corner of the practice field in the lower right of the photo.  The original entrance and western half of the building (left side of the photo) is being remodeled. The eastern half has been demolished and rebuilt. 
(WSA BCR state government buildings survey photo album, ca 1931)

When Half Acre was first opened in 1925, it was a state of the art facility. One of the largest indoor university facilities in the nation, its arena covered about half an acre, thus the name Half Acre Gym. The building was home to the UW/Laramie National Guard Armory as well as the athletics program until the field house was completed in 1951.

Aerial view of the University of Wyoming campus in 1931. Half Acre Gym is the large building located on the very edge of campus at the top of the shot, just to the left of the stadium and athletic fields where the student union now stands.  (WSA BCR state government buildings survey photo album)

Aerial view of the University of Wyoming campus in 1931. Half Acre Gym (16) is the large building located on the very edge of campus at the top of the shot, just to the left of the stadium and athletic fields (17) where the student union now stands.
(WSA BCR state government buildings survey photo album)

The following images are part of a lantern slide presentation on the then current and future prospects of UW, created in the late 1920s.

P72-25_49 Print 308, UW Physical Education, New vs Old Gymnasium, 1925-2025, lantern slide

Check out the projected lifetime of the “new” gymnasium. It looks as though at least half of the building will make it to 2025 and beyond. Considering how far exercise and sports medicine has come since 1925, 89 years isn’t anything to sneeze at either. 
(WSA P72-25/49 Print 308)

P72-25_49 Print 309, UW new gymnasium, 1925, lantern slide

The slides themselves are 4 inches by 3.25 inches and made by sandwiching the emulsion layer (the gelatin layer that contains the image) between two pieces of glass. This would then be projected onto a screen or wall for an audience using a candle or later a light bulb. Eventually, glass would give way to celluloid film and the slides would shrink to the familiar 35mm slides before being replaced entirely by digital presentations.

A group of men gather in the Woodmen of the World Hall to view a lantern slide presentation. The contraption on the table is the lantern slide projector.  (WSA Meyers Neg 1009, 1910-1915, photo by Joe Shimitz)

A group of men gather in the Woodmen of the World Hall to view a lantern slide presentation. The contraption on the table is the lantern slide projector.
(WSA Meyers Neg 1009, 1910-1915, photo by Joe Shimitz)

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