Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Saturday morning I was running along Forsyth near Big Bend on my way to photograph a soon to be demolished circa 1970 bank building in Clayton when I looked north and realized that Washington University's historic Francis Gymnasium has been largely been demolished.
The east block of the building fronted by the twin towers and main entrance is being retained and will be renovated. The complete removal of the roof, exposing the structural frame, is indication that the interior of the remaining portion will be greatly altered.
An aerial view of the historic gymnasium complex prior to demolition of the gym.
A rendering of the expanded & renovated complex with a new south addition.
The demolition of Francis Gymnasium took me by surprise since I had seen this rendering last year that shows the historic gym renovated a a new fitness center. The detailed description of the project on the Campaign for Washington University site also alludes to a different outcome for the gym. Boasting that the Francis Gymnasium and Francis Field are on the National Register of Historic Places and were the sites of the first Olympics in the Western Hemisphere, the article goes on to stat that the gym will be renovated into a state of the art fitness center.
The rendering above is not so far off from this photo from the Missouri History Museum collection of the A. G. Spalding and Bros. Model Gymnasium, Physical Culture Exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904.
A story from Campus Life News from February of this year however states that the gym will be "replaced" with the new fitness center, locker rooms and multi-purpose rooms.