Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Centenary Fitness Center and Natatorium

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Institution Name: Centenary College of Louisiana
Original/Historic Place Name: W.A. Haynes Gymnasium
Location on Campus: King's Highway
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1936original construction Unknown
2001renovation Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: concrete
Walls: brick; glass
Roof: composition shingle
1936-present (2007)auditorium
1936-present (2007)classrooms
1936-present (2007)gymnasium (basketball and racquetball courts, fitness center, track, pool, physical education labs)
1961-2001academic department building (art studios)
2001-present (2007)other (natatorium)
2001-present (2007)faculty offices

Significance: architecture, education, history
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Not until 1936 did the College, in its 111th year, have a grand building for quality indoor athletic programs. That year, in the midst of Depression Era economics, a wealthy Shreveport oilman, W. A. Haynes, shared his generosity with the gift of this beautiful red brick and steel modern/pre-WWII structure. Seating 1700, it was well provisioned for all the indoor physical education and athletic activities of that day and quickly became a source of pride for the College and community as Centenary's fourth brick building.

As time passed, the building's use expanded. During WWII it was the scene of many patriotic ceremonies and assemblies, especially with the presence of military personnel from nearby Barksdale Air Base taking classes in preparation for their departure to aid the war effort. In later years, Centenary would provide space in the Haynes Gym for the College's ROTC program. As the building aged, it proved inadequate for varsity athletic competitions and the crowds attracted by these sports, particularly due to the lack of a climate control system. The College constructed the Gold Dome across the street in 1961, and the old gym was relegated to intramural activities, physical education/ROTC classes, and art studio sessions. Rather than replace it, however, in 2001 the school renovated its interior and created a state-of-the-art fitness center-with weight and exercise workout areas, jogging track, aerobic studio, and dance studio-- adding a contemporary flavor to the former architectural style. A further effect of this renovation was the construction of a natatorium. The remainder of the old building's interior was refurbished for classrooms, offices, racquet ball courts, and other uses. Large sections of glass provide attractive views of the landscaped grounds and arboretum from the fitness center's interior. The renovation was radical enough to change the name of the building, but the memorial to W. A. Haynes is preserved in the building's original lobby which now serves as a special reception area containing memorabilia from the old gym and its benefactor.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Bryson, Helen R. "A History of Centenary College." M. A. thesis, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, 1941.

Centenary College, The College of Louisiana. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1979.

East Feliciana Parish Records. Clinton and Jackson, LA.

Fay, Edwin W. The History of Education in Louisiana. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1898.

Nelson, William H. A Burning Torch and a Flaming Fire: The Story of Centenary College of Louisiana. Nashville, TN: Methodist Publishing, 1931.

Varnado, Otto W. "A History of the Early Institutions of Higher Learning in Louisiana." M. A. thesis, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, 1927.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library

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