Waterman Gymnasium was completed in 1894 after years of appeals and effort on the part of students. An elaborate report on the subject of a gymnasium was presented to the Regents by a committee of the University Senate in 1870 (R.P., 1864-70, pp. 7-22), and for a time a grant by the Board seemed possible. Unfortunately, the necessary funds were not available, and all appeals for a Page 1586special appropriation were refused by the legislature. In 1878 a concerted student movement had developed through the reorganization of an earlier Football Association which became the Athletic Association of the University, an incorporated society which had as its principal objectives the building of a gymnasium and the establishment of a trust fund for the moneys raised for that purpose. By 1883 the sum totaled some $4,000, which amount was greatly increased by the time the building was actually erected ten years later.
The first step toward the construction of the gymnasium came through a gift, in 1891, of $20,000 from Joshua W. Waterman, of Detroit, on condition that other donors should contribute a like amount (P.R., 1891, p. 13). President Angell was able to report in 1894 that $42,705, including Mr. Waterman's original gift, was available for the construction of a gymnasium, to which was added $6,095, the amount of the fund originally raised for a gymnasium by previous student efforts; this was used for equipment.
Although the erection of the building was contemplated in 1892, the financial stringency of the period limited the amount of the subscriptions, and in order to complete it the Regents found it necessary, eventually, to add a contribution of $14,000. The total cost was $65,134.14 (R.P., 1891-96, p. 516). The architect was E. W. Arnold. The gymnasium has a frame of structural ironwork enclosed within a shell of brick walls, with skylights in the ceiling. Its dimensions were 150 by 90 feet, and a shallow wing along the south side provided offices for the director and rooms for medical examinations. A balcony was devoted to a running track of fourteen laps to the mile. The basement was occupied almost entirely by a locker room and showers.
With the growth of the University, the gymnasium proved inadequate. Plans for enlargement were accordingly prepared, providing for an addition making it 248 feet long, with corresponding additions in the locker room and shower facilities and a track of ten laps to the mile in the balcony. These additions, which were completed by the University Department of Buildings and Grounds in 1916, gave the building a total floor area of 57,000 square feet.
Plans for the additions also provided for a swimming pool, a change in the entrance, and the addition of more office and examination rooms, but funds were not available. In 1924, however, a number of alterations were made in the wing devoted to offices for the Department of Physical Education.