Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Gill Center

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Institution Name: McDaniel College
Original/Historic Place Name: Gill Gymnasium
Location on Campus: North Campus
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1939original construction Anderson, Charles M.
1984major addition Unknown
1997destruction by fire; rebuilt Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: slate; metal
1939-present (2007)gymnasium
ca. 1983-present (2007)other (R.O.T.C. center)

Significance: history
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The Gill Center was built in two stages, 45 years apart. The original gymnasium (the third such facility on campus) was built in 1939 with the generous support of its namesake, Robert J. Gill. The second phase of the complex (which included a large field house, fitness center, wrestling room, and locker facilities) was opened in 1984. Funds from the Gill estate helped to pay for the new facility. The physical education facility in itself is much like similar ones on other campuses, but the person for whom the complex is named is unique to McDaniel College.

Robert J. Gill (1889 - 1983) graduated as Valedictorian of the Class of 1910. He was also the class president, captain of the football team, basketball manager, and an excellent student. After receiving his A.B. degree, he enrolled in the University of Virginia Law School, from which he received his LL.B. degree. Soon thereafter he entered the army to serve in World War I. He then became a successful corporate lawyer and a devoted trustee of his alma mater (following in his clergyman-father's footsteps). During the early 1930s he spearheaded a movement to put the college on the football map, and for a few years, Western Maryland College was a football power. A change in college administration in 1935 (and the departure of the successful coach) allowed the college to return to its academic roots. During World War II, Gill again saw service, and at the conclusion of the war this soldier-lawyer, now a Brigadier General, was adjutant to Justice Jackson at the Nuremburg trials. Continuing to love and support his alma mater, the life-long bachelor eventually became chairman of the College Board of Trustees from 1963-1968, but he did not live to see the Gill Center completed, dying on his 94th birthday in 1983. He was known as "Mr. Western Maryland" and truly lived up to the name.

In January 1997 the original Gill Gymnasium burned. It was rebuilt and refurbished and serves as a venue for physical education classes and intramural activities.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Bulletin of the Historical Society of Carroll County, Maryland 2, no. 2 (May 1952).

Chandler, Douglas R. Pilgrimage of Faith; A Centennial History of Wesley Theological Seminary--1882-1982. Santa Ana, CA: Seven Locks Press, 1984.

Makosky, John D. "Western Maryland College in the Nineteenth Century." Western Maryland College Bulletin [n.d.].

Schofield, Samuel Biggs, and Marjorie Cowles Crain. Western Maryland College The Formative Years, 1866-1947. Westminster, MD: Western Maryland College, 1982.

Weeks, Christopher. "The Building of Westminster in Maryland." Bulletin of the Historical Society of Carroll County, Maryland 2, no. 1 (May 1949).

Zepp, Ira G. "Western Maryland College: The Hill." In A Grateful Memory: History of Baker Chapel. Westminster, MD: Western Maryland College, 1995.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections, Facilities Management Office

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