Friday, March 30, 2012

Muncie Fieldhouse: "A Worthy Civic Investment"

Muncie's Fieldhouse was built in 1928, the same year as Butler University's historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Muncie-based architects Charles Henry Houck and Herbert F.Smenner, of the firm Houck & Smenner, designed the building to seat 7,500 people who came to see the Muncie Central Bearcats dominate Indiana high school basketball.

The Bearcats would go on to win many state championships, but not in 1954 when they played against the small town Milan Indians at Hinkle Fieldhouse for the final game and lost 32-30. Every seat at Hinkle was sold out for the legendary game which would become the story for the movie Hoosiers. According to Bobby Plump, the Milan player who took the fateful, winning shot, "the film captured what it was like growing up in a small town in Indiana and how important basketball was." 

Documents such as this 1933 Financial Report of the Field House also illustrate the importance communities placed on their field houses and facilities for sports and sports education. "The Field House and Ball Recreation Field is a worthy civic project in the future development of Muncie. The citizens of Muncie will find an increasing use for this building and the surrounding grounds."

One of those additional uses involved hosting Eleanor Roosevelt's first speech in Muncie on October 27, 1939. She addressed the challenges facing youth during the Depression. A few years later, in 1942, Abbott and Costello rallied the community in the Fieldhouse to support the war bond effort.

Images: Financial Report of the Field House, 1933. (DOC 04.014) Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

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