Robinson Center History

Construction on the original Robinson gymnasium began in 1905 (it was completed in May of 1907) based on plans submitted by James Naismith. The proposed 100-foot by 150-foot facility included dressing rooms, baseball cage, and swimming pool in the basement, the gymnasium (with a wire screen to divide it for use by genders), and rooms for boxing, fencing, wrestling, and apparatus work. The second floor provided an auditorium with seating for 3,000 and a 1/16-mile running track. It was modeled after the gymnasium at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, where Naismith attended, taught, and developed the game of basketball. Robinson gymnasium served the University of Kansas for 59 years (it was razed in 1967) and was used for enrollment, commencements, concerts, lectures, basketball games, swimming meets, social events, war-time training, and post-war housing until replaced by a new gymnasium, also named Robinson. Both gymnasiums were named for Charles Robinson, the first territorial governor of Kansas who played a leading role in the early history of the state and university.

Robinson Health and Physical Education Building, a $1.4 million concrete and yellow-brick complex, was completed in 1966; a $6.7 million addition opened in August of 1980. Robinson, home to the School of Education's Department of Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences, houses faculty and staff offices, gymnasiums, research and teaching laboratories, classrooms, dance studios (for the Department of Dance), weight training and conditioning rooms, racquetball courts, locker rooms, and two swimming pools. Until September, 2003, Robinson also housed intramurals and student fitness activities.

Information provided by Dr. Angela Lumpkin


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