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Gallery  |  Campus Structures  |   Gymnasium

The Men’s Gymnasium, originally intended for a lateral quad off the main quad, was relocated across Palm Drive from the museum. It's design echoed the museum’s neoclassical style and shared with it prominent architectural elements, like a glazed dome. The inside of the new facility was equally impressive, filled with white marble and tile. A swimming tank, handball courts, bowling alleys, and a large gymnasium occupied the first two floors. Conceived by Jane Stanford as a social center, a ballroom and a banquet hall were located on the top floor. Copies of statues by Canova, the Pugilist and the Wrestler, marked the entrance to the building.

Worried that project funds might be diverted to other uses after her death, Mrs. Stanford rushed the building process. The pressure to finish such an elaborate structure quickly influenced some unwise time- and money-saving choices, including the decision to forego broad, flaring foundations similar to those specified by Senator Stanford for the Inner Quad buildings.

In the 1906 quake, the Gym was a total loss. Along with the Library, it was an example of a building whose damage the Commission of Engineers found to be “directly trac[e]able to and caused by ignoring structural principles in design, the constructive details and important parts of their integrity.” Records indicate that there were early plans to keep the portions of the structure that was still standing. In fact, the ruins of the Gymnasium stood for months, testament to the devastation of the great quake and perhaps the trustees’ indecision. Their ultimate judgment, however, was to demolish both the Library and Gymnasium. Today, the Graduate School of Business and Frost Amphitheater, respectively, occupy their sites. Remnants of the Gymnasium’s foundation are still visible near Frost Amphitheater. Learn more about these kinds of post-destruction decisions on the Walking Tour.


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