A look at The Michigan State Normal School Gymnasium in Ypsilanti, Michigan, circa 1894, the year it was built. This impressive red brick building was located across the street from the Water Tower in Ypsilanti (and if you have been to Ypsi, you know exactly where this is). This gymnasium was divided completely in half, the North half reserved for women and the South half for men. The Michigan State Normal School eventually became Eastern Michigan University, and unfortunately, this particular building was demolished in the mid-1960’s.
To promote his first tour of America in 1894, Sandow lent his image to his own brand of cigars. Sandow knew what he was doing and this tactic clearly worked as his shows were all well attended. This was one of the first, if not THE first “celebrity endorsement” which are commonplace today with athletes, film stars and the like.
In keeping with the saying Mens sana in corpore sano (A healthy mind in a healthy body) the University of Michigan built some of the finest gymnasia the world had ever seen in the late nineteenth century. The Waterman Gymnasium (pictured right and named for Joshua W. Waterman, a notable Detroit attorney who donated most of the funds) was completed in 1894. The Barbour Gymnasium for women (on left, named for Regent Levi L. Barbour), followed in 1896. The physical director of these facilities was George A. May and the above picture was how both grand buildings looked from the diag, circa 1927. The chem building now sits on the site where these gyms were once located.