1948 Memorial Field House
Another ghost on the campus. This one loomed large in folks memories, not only for the many sporting events they attended there, but also its spectacular end. In 1947, Eastern Washington College of Education acquired a government surplus drill hall from Farragut Naval Training Base in Idaho and had it moved to the campus.
Backstory and Context
After World War II,
the government had surplus buildings available. One of those was a drill hall
at Camp Walgreen at Farragut Naval Training Base north of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Some local boys, including Chuck Shepard were stationed at Camp Walgreen for
training in the early days of the war.
In April 1947,
Eastern Washington College of Education, as it was known then, acquired the
building. Gaasland Construction of Bellingham was contracted to disassemble and
move it to Cheney. A total of $650,580 was spent on remodeling the structure to
suit the needs of the physical education and athletics departments.
The Memorial Field
House was dedicated October 30, 1948. The facility included a swimming pool in
the south end, a large area for physical education activities, a basketball
court, and practice floors, a gymnastics area, as well as a dirt floor track at
the north end.
September, the Southwest Spokane County Fair was held in the fieldhouse. Fair president Herman Willms, along with the
many granges in the area organized the event, that included a parade through
In the 1950s the
field house hosted high school basketball tournaments.
Brothers comedy team appeared at Eastern Washington State College in the field
house in February 1963.
In 1970, student
demonstrators set a minor fire in the field house and then marched on Cadet
April 26, 1977, Cheney's Fieldhouse Comes to a Spectacular End. A welder's torch apparently started the fire which raged for nearly 12 hours yesterday, destroying what remained of the antiquated wood-frame fieldhouse at Eastern Washington State College in Cheney. The four-story structure was being torn down by wreckers and was about ¼ gone when the fire began. Several nearby buildings were damaged by smoke and a dozen firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation. -- Spokesman Review
Cecil Dryden's Light for an Empire 1966
Cheney Free Press
Recollections of Berneal Willms Shepard