Armory/Red Gym

716 Langdon St.     Built 1892-94     Madison Landmark 2006     National Register 1993     National Historic Landmark     Romanesque Revival     Conover & Porter

Built by Timothy McCarthy. Cornerstone laid June 20, 1893 – Opened in May, 1894. Designed with student gymnasium facilities, an assembly hall, and for military training.

In 1881 the university's President, John Bascom, began lobbying for a gymnasium that could be used for both military drill and gymnastic exercises. Everything from university dances and banquets to organized viewings of away-football games were held in the Armory's drill hall.

The drill hall was also frequently used for political events. A 1894 rally, featuring U.S. President William McKinley, was its first political use. In 1904 the Armory was the site of the controversial Wisconsin Republican Convention. At the convention Robert M. La Follette's Progressive party won control of the Wisconsin Republican Party. The Progressive's victory eventually lead to the enactment of substantial reforms throughout Wisconsin. The 1904 “Gymnasium Convention” holds national significance in the history of the Progressive Movement.

UW basketball teams played here from 1911 to 1930.

In 1970, during Vietnam War protests, the Gym was firebombed because it housed ROTC offices. The incident brought attention to the building and brought support to save it. At the time the University had plans to tear it down.

The previous gym was on Bascom Hill about where the Carilion Tower is now located. A wooden building it burned in 1891.

Pictures of a UW football game on Library Mall in 1893. Note the Armory in the background still under construction.

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