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Marquette University’s Old Gym, located at 1532 W. Clybourn Street, was built in 1922 to accommodate the large student body and a serious intercollegiate sports program. The Marquette University basketball team used the Old Gym for both practice and games until 1956, after which it was used only for practice. Today the Old Gym is home to several Marquette University sports teams including men’s and women’s tennis and track and field. Marquette University’s Army and Naval ROTC departments are located in the east and west wings.

  • The Old Gym seen from 16th and Clybourn
  • Student registering in the Old Gym circa 1960
  • North side view of Old Gym circa 1936
In 1922, Marquette University opened a new gymnasium on Clybourn Street, which was widely praised by the student body. The basketball team had been playing at the gym behind Holy Names Church near the old campus at 10th and State, but the building was poorly maintained and the student body lost interest in attending games. The new gymnasium brought the Marquette basketball team to the university’s campus. It also helped unify the student body, which didn’t have to travel far from campus to watch a basketball game again. The Old Gym wasn’t just built for athletic purposes; it was built to also host events for the student body. It hosted the first general convocation in Marquette’s history on November 22, 1922, and became the site for Marquette’s prom, which was the most important social event during the 1920s. During the time before digitalized registration, Marquette students would line up in the Old Gym to register for classes.

            The Marquette basketball team used the Old Gym for games and practice. This changed in 1956 when they moved to the Milwaukee Arena (now Panther Arena) for games. They continued to use the Old Gym for practice. Al McGuire’s basketball team practiced here during their rise to national prominence in the 1970s, including the 1977 national championship. In 2003, the basketball team moved its practices to the new Al McGuire Center, leaving the Old Gym to host the other sports teams, including men’s and women’s soccer, tennis, and track and field, and men’s golf.

            The Army and Naval ROTC departments of Marquette University are located in the Old Gym’s east and west wings, respectively. In 1954, the west wing received a second story to accommodate Naval ROTC while the east wing received one shortly afterwards for Army ROTC.

Jablonsky, Thomas J. Milwaukee's Jesuit University: Marquette, 1881-1981. Milwaukee, WI: Marquette UP, 2007. Print.