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Springfield College Will Hold Ribbon Cutting for Renovated Judd Gymnasia, Its Most Historic Campus Building

October 12, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Oct., 12, 2010 -- Officially opening the newly renovated Judd Gymnasia, the oldest building at Springfield College, Springfield College President Richard B. Flynn and student leaders will cut a ceremonial ribbon at the building’s entrance on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010, at noon, before an audience of students, trustees and members of the faculty and staff.

Originally built in 1894 and expanded in 1910, the red-brick Victorian structure underwent an $8 million renovation during the past year to serve the college’s current programming while preserving the building’s historic character and many architectural details.

According to Flynn, “These renovations bring new life and purpose to Judd Gymnasia and support our mission of educating students in spirit, mind and body for leadership in service to others. We honor the proud past of this historic landmark by preserving and equipping it to serve present and future generations of students and alumni, and also YMCA professionals from throughout the world.”

Following the ribbon cutting, Flynn will preside over the opening of a time capsule from 1910, which was discovered during the renovation.

Prominent throughout the building are Springfield College’s current and longstanding ties to the YMCA. An early name of the college, the YMCA Training School, has been embedded in the building’s masonry since its beginning.

Judd Gymnasia houses the college’s new Stitzer YMCA Center, which includes the college’s Office of YMCA Relations, YMCA Hall of Fame, offices of the Association of YMCA Professionals, YMCA Club room and YMCA multipurpose room.

The Springfield College Office of YMCA Relations coordinates the college’s YMCA professional studies program and YMCA Club, and hosts national and international YMCA professional programs. The Stitzer YMCA Center is designed to be a destination point for YMCA professionals, and will also support international exchange programs preparing YMCA leaders worldwide.

Housed in the former McCurdy Natatorium of Judd Gymnasia will be the new Springfield College Museum. Some of the natatorium’s original tilework, which was laid in 1912, has been salvaged and integrated into the flooring of the museum. Museum exhibits will illustrate the college’s history, famous graduates and faculty members and their accomplishments, international impact of its guiding humanics philosophy, historic ties to the YMCA, and other significant achievements.

Newly located in Judd Gymnasia are the college’s Office of Alumni Relations and Archives and Special Collections. There are also two classrooms, lounges, and a large multipurpose space for student activities.

Renovating the five-story 37,256-square-foot building were Erland Construction, Inc., and Stephen Jablonski Architects, which specializes in renovating and restoring historic buildings. Among the building’s new features are stained-glass windows and approximately 150 energy-efficient windows replacing many that had been covered with boards. The facility is fully handicap accessible. New plantings, fencing, lighting and other landscaping visually tie it to buildings on Naismith Green and the entire campus.

One of the most historic sites in Springfield, Judd Gymnasia was the location of some of the earliest basketball games in history. The inventor of the game of basketball, Springfield College Alumnus and Instructor Dr. James Naismith, taught in the building and participated in the dedication of its original section, completed in 1894.

Judd Gymnasia was also the site of the naming of the game of volleyball, which was invented by Springfield College Alumnus William G. Morgan. Springfield College Professor A.T. Halstead suggested the title after attending an exhibition game there.

The original section of Judd Gymnasia was designed by B.H. Seabury with great input from Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick, director of the Springfield College Physical Department. Gulick, who is widely regarded as the father of physical education and recreation in the United States, assured that many features he had studied were included, making the facility one of the most complete gymnasiums in the United States.

This structure later became known as East Gymnasium when West Gymnasium was added in 1910. Edward Lippincott Tilton, a well-known American architect who specialized in designing libraries in the United States and Canada and at educational institutions, designed West Gymnasium. Added later was McCurdy Natatorium, which was considered a modern marvel because of its continuous filtration system that eliminated the need to constantly replace water.

In 1953, the building was named in honor of Leslie Judd, the famed Springfield College gymnastics coach and teacher. Over the years, Judd Gymnasia has housed academic and recreational programs and offices of coaches and faculty members.

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