Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Carl S. Swisher Gymnasium

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Institution Name: Jacksonville University
Original/Historic Place Name: Swisher Library
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
1952-1953original construction; July 1952 - March 1953 Haas, J. Brooks
Designer: J. Brooks Haas
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Modern/post-WWII (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, engineering, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete slab
Walls: brick
Roof: flat, rolled roofs with tar
ca. 1953-present (2006)gymnasium

In 1950 it was determined that with the Korean war affecting enrollment, additional classroom buildings would not be needed. Instead, the Board of Trustees determined it would concentrate on badly needed other facilities, such as a gymnasium. The Carl Swisher Foundation donated $250,000 on October 25, 1952 toward the cost of construction. When work was completed, the university had a 2,000 seat gymnasium, the largest in the county, for a total cost of $310,000. The community at large was also a beneficiary, with ice shows, professional tennis matches, and Gator Bowl basketball tournaments held in the facility. The gymnasium helped fill a void in the community--the lack of an adequate civic and sports arena. The thespians of the university also utilized the facility for their productions, and commencement exercises were held there by the university. Of note is that the structure is located about where it appeared on the original master plan for the campus.

The gymnasium received refurbishing work in 1999 and today continues to serve the university and the community. It serves as the home court for the men's and women's Dolphin basketball teams and is used by local schools for basketball games and other athletic events. The facility is used during the summer for programs operated by various summer camps hosted by local and out of state youth groups. The university will be seeking historic designation for the gymnasium.

Swisher Gymnasium was built to assist in instituting a real physical education program and to provide a facility on campus for the basketball games of the university. Today, it still serves as the home of the men and women's basketball teams and is an integral part of the university's physical education program.


Bald, Ralph D. 4 Decades of Growth. Jacksonville, FL: Jacksonville University Office of Public Relations, 1975.

Bald, Ralph D., Jr. A History of Jacksonville University, The First Twenty-Five Years, 1934-1959. Jacksonville, FL: Jacksonville University, 1959.

Hallam, George. Our Place in the Sun, A History of Jacksonville University. Jacksonville, FL: Jacksonville University, 1988.

"History of Jacksonville University. Descriptions of the University--Photographs." [n.d.] Carl S. Swisher Library, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL.

Middleton, Bill. "McGully's Gulch: Where It Began." Florida-Times Union, October 23, 1951.


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Last update: November 2006