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Memorial Gym celebrates 75th
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Pamela Perkins and Keith Donnelly jump and jive to the tunes of Jim Miller and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra on Saturday night, Jan. 29, at Memorial Gymnasium. Perkins and Donnelly teach swing dance through IM-Rec Sports.

Memorial Gym celebrates 75th

Staff Report

In honor of Memorial Gymnasium's 75th anniversary, Intramural-Recreational Sports hosted a week-long celebration that culminated with a swing dance Jan. 29, reminiscent of the days when Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey played to capacity crowds there.

Today, Memorial Gym still attracts about 1,000 visitors daily, who use its numerous facilities. But gone are the times when the gym served as the cultural hub for the University and Charlottesville community.

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong and rock-n-roll legend Chuck Berry performed there.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his "Stab in the Back" speech at the gym in 1940, which denounced Italy's declaration of war on France.

Then-Sen. John F. Kennedy spoke at the 1958 U.Va. Law Day Dinner, held in the gym, and was accompanied by his brothers, Robert and Ted, both of whom are graduates of U.Va.'s Law School.

To share some of these poignant moments with today's visitors, a photo exhibit was on display in the gym throughout the week, said facility manager Sarah Benbow, who hopes to find a permanent location in the gym for the exhibit.

Memorial Gymnasium was built in honor of U.Va. students and alumni who died in World War I. The $300,000 project was one of the biggest gyms in the East when it opened in 1924. At that time, it was home to the physical education program as well as the varsity basketball, varsity boxing and indoor track teams. The gym remained home to U.Va. athletics administration until the offices moved to University Hall in 1965.

Today, the gym boasts the nation's oldest indoor track, according to Benbow. It also has a lap pool, boxing and free-weight equipment used by students, faculty and staff. To learn more about IM-Rec Sports offerings at Memorial Gym and other locations on Grounds, call 924-3791 or visit http://www.virginia.edu/ims


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