Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Seventy Years

Alumni and trustees went ahead vigorously with plans for adding the gymnasium to the equipment for physical education. Several alumni architects were considered but the final choice was the firm of Hewitt & Brown of Minneapolis, one of the partners in which was Edwin H. Brown, '98. Their tentative plans were submitted early in 1914, and after being modified several times were accepted. Olmsted Brothers had proposed the brow of the Hill overlooking the field as the most suitable site for a gymnasium, and the alumni committee was strongly in favor of the proposal. Dr. Hollis was stronger, however. Backed by Mr. Washburn, he insisted that the building be placed at the north line of Bliss field facing the proposed road along that boundary. That was where it was built, to the annoyance of some persons who later tried to develop a comprehensive building plan for the area.

In June, 1914, the alumni capitulated to Mr. Washburn, agreeing to assume the burden of the $60,000 note for purchase of land and to pay the Institute $3,000 a year for upkeep of the field and gymnasium until the intended endowment of $60,000 had been replaced. At the same meeting the Association voted to attempt the raising of an additional $100,000 to meet this purchase obligation and to provide funds for construction expenditures that had not previously been anticipated. No provision was made for the possibility that some alumni would not or could not meet their pledges. Before the gymnasium had been started, the Association had expended over $60,000 on land, field development and sundries. The anticipated cost of the gymnasium and its equipment, if completion of the swimming pool were postponed, was about $115,000.

The contract for the building was let to the Central Building Co., Bradford A. Gibson, '91, president, in April, 1915, and excavation was begun immediately in order that the cornerstone might be laid in June. In the meantime, Arthur D. Butterfield had again made the rounds of the alumni in search of the additional $100,000. This time he was armed with a new type of pledge, which provided an opportunity


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Last Modified: Fri Jul 30 11:15:25 EDT 1999