Jadwin Gymnasium

Jadwin Gymnasium is a memorial to Leander Stockwell Jadwin '28, who was captain of the track team his senior year and who died of injuries suffered in an automobile accident in New York eight months after his graduation. He was, his teammate John McG. Dalenz '28 said at the gymnasium's dedication forty years later, ``a young man who was dedicated but light-hearted, accomplished but with great modesty, competitive but magnanimous.'' One Saturday in his senior year, Dalenz related, Jadwin went to New York to run in an A.A.U. indoor track meet. The next morning when his roommates asked him how he had done, he replied, ``Oh, I didn't do so badly.'' It wasn't until they saw the headline in the New York Times that they realized the extent of his understatement: ``Princeton's Jadwin Ties High Hurdle World Record.''

When Jadwin's mother died in 1965 she left the University an unrestricted bequest of $27 million, and because the Jadwin family had some years earlier expressed an interest in a fieldhouse for indoor track and had made a substantial contribution for this purpose, the trustees decided to use part of the Jadwin legacy to complete the funds needed for a $6.5 million multipurpose athletic building and to name it for Stockwell Jadwin.

Ground was broken for the Jadwin Gymnasium in 1964, and construction was completed in 1969. At its dedication President Goheen called it a tribute to the director of athletics, R. Kenneth Fairman '34, who had ``had a vision of what Princeton needed in the way of a multipurpose gymnasium and had put himself into the building of it.''

Situated just below the open end of Palmer Stadium on a hillside overlooking Lake Carnegie, Jadwin Gymnasium is one of the University's largest structures, with more than enough total floor space to enclose eight football fields; it is also one of its most versatile buildings, providing year-round facilities for competition and practice in ten sports and for convocations, concerts, and lectures.

Designed by Walker O. Cain & Associates, Jadwin has two primary levels beneath a roof formed by three interlocking shells. On the upper level the first shell covers the entrance lobby. The area beneath the middle shell contains the main basketball court and four practice courts. Using temporary bleachers to supplement the fixed seats in the balcony, 7,500 spectators can be accommodated at a basketball game. At other non-athletic events, as many as 10,000 can be seated. The area beneath the third shell to the south contains an eight-laps-to-the-mile Tartan track, with a 310-foot straightaway and pole vault, high jump, and long jump locations, which can be converted into four indoor tennis courts.

The lower level has a large dirt floor for shot-put and weight-throw events in winter track meets, for indoor baseball practice in the early spring, and for indoor football, lacrosse, or soccer practice, when needed. Adjacent are six bituminous-surfaced tennis courts.

Intermediate levels beneath the entrance lobby contain a fencing room, a wrestling room, and thirteen squash racquets courts with spectator galleries.

Jadwin is Princeton's fifth gymnasium. Efforts to provide a suitable place ``for the bracing of the bodily frame'' (President McCosh's phrase) began in 1837 when a group of students in the Class of 1839 fitted up a gymnasium of sorts in an old building just off campus, but it was discontinued after they graduated.

The first gymnasium for the whole college -- a stoveless, wooden, barn-like structur~e -- was put up in 1859 near where Witherspoon now stands. Half the $984.31 cost was paid by students, half by the faculty. It was equipped with second-hand parallel and horizontal bars, pulleys with weights, a few swings with hand rings, and a mattress or two, bought for $50 from a gymnasium in Trenton that had gone out of business. Primitive though it was, students found it a good place ``to loosen the joints and strengthen the limbs stiffened by study'' until one night during the summer of 1865 when townspeople burned it to the ground after hearing a rumor that a tramp suffering from smallpox had been sleeping there.

The College's second gymnasium, a gray stone building, was built in 1869, near the site of Campbell Hall, at a cost of $38,000, shared equally by Robert Bonner and Henry G. Marquand. A modest affair by today's standards (inside it was a little smaller than a regulation-size basketball court), it was considered the finest gymnasium in the country when it was built, and its bars, rings, trapezes, ladders, weights, clubs, bells, and ropes were put to constant and effective use by student gymnasts for more than thirty years.

The Bonner-Marquand gym had two celebrated accessories: at its front a bronze statue of a gladiator, in its basement the College's first bathtubs. The gladiator, whose only adornments were a sword, a shield and a fig-leaf, was a favorite butt of student pranks; once when Anthony Comstock, secretary of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, came to give a public lecture, he found the gladiator decorously clothed in red flannel underwear. The dozen enameled iron tubs in ``the murky steaming depths'' of the basement were difficult to get to and uncomfortable to use. So much so, that it was the custom at that time (when sophomores had to pass a ``biennial'' examination on the work of the first two years) to observe, on meeting a classmate who had a conspicuously well-scrubbed appearance, ``Ah, I see you have taken your biennial.''

The Bonner-Marquand Gymnasium was razed in 1907 to make way for Campbell Hall. Meantime, the University Gymnasium had been built in 1903 by general alumni subscriptions. A connecting building contained a swimming pool, which had been built in the early 1890s in memory of Frederick Brokaw 1892, a varsity baseball catcher, who had lost his life trying to save a drowning girl. For four decades the University Gymnasium was used for physical education, athletic contests, student dances, and alumni dinners. It was destroyed by fire in 1944, and replaced in 1947 by Dillon Gymnasium.


From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

Go to Search A Princeton Companion