Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Anderson High School's Wigwam Gymnasium

The New York Times' Sunday Sports section had an interesting article about high school basketball in Indiana. The story focused on the fate of Anderson High School Wigwam gymnasium, which is located in nearby Anderson, Indiana, and has recently been vacated due to the reduced student enrollment and dwindling population in the once-booming factory town. Many residents are fighting to save the gymnasium, but one of its greatest features--its massive size--does little to help those efforts.

The school and gymnasium were designed by Anderson-based architect Arthur B. Henning, whose collection is in the Drawings and Documents Archive. Above are images from the building's 1961 dedication booklet titled "With the Future in Mind," which promotes the 8,189-seat building as "one of the most versatile and beautiful athletic and educational plants in Indiana."

It was built when high school basketball games were a regular weekend event for many Indiana residents. The builders in 1960 had no reason to predict the factories would close and people would stop going to the games. "Basketball has been a way of life in Anderson almost from its beginning in 1904," according to the dedication booklet. Now we're left wondering what the future will hold for this iconic structure.

Images: Anderson High School gymnasium dedication booklet, 1961; Anderson High School gymnasium construction photograph, ca. 1960. Arthur B. Henning Architectural Records, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collection, Ball State University Libraries.

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