One of Koehler’s major contributions was to secure funding for the building of a new gymnasium which, when completed in August of 1892, was superior to any in the world at the time. The rare shot shown above was how it looked in 1895. Look closely and you’ll see Indian clubs, wall pulleys, climbing ropes, tumbling mats, climbing ladders and many other pieces of classic gymnastic equipment.
Koehler was a member of the famed Frankford Squad.
With plenty of natural lighting, an indoor track, climbing ropes, Indian clubs, balance beams, medicine balls, wall pulleys, climbing ladders and an awesome selection of globe barbells and dumbbells, I’d say this facility is just about all you could ever ask for in a gym.
This was a pretty typical gym at the time: plenty of wide open space and a variety of available gymnastic training equipment such as traveling rings, medicine balls, tumbling mats, pommel horses and climbing ropes etc. Like most gyms of the period, the training options were basic, but more than enough to obtain good results. The large and very impressive semi-circular beamed roof was specifically designed to allow in plenty of natural light.
The armory was quite a facility, It was built in 1897 and resembled a Medieval castle, turrets and all, as you can see in the exterior shot below.
This facility is actually famous for several other reasons: It was one of the first centers of widespread basketball interest and activity in the US… in fact, the team that practiced in this gym, headed by Alfred “The Kid” Abadie and his brother Bob, won the very first national AAU tournament championship in 1898. Charles Merrill and Edmund Lynch (of Merrill Lynch) are said to have met in the swimming pool sometime in 1913 and, as the story goes, many decades later, it was this location that inspired the Village People song “Y.M.C.A.”
Around a decade ago, the building was sold and this area was turned into luxury apartments.
An unusual feature that could be found in the basement was an indoor rowing tank, installed so that the crew team could get in some much needed practice in the early spring before the ice melted.
This fabulous gymnasium was named for the oil magnate John D. Archbold, who gave the university the funds to complete the building. Look closely at the top image and you’ll also see the top few rows of Archbold Stadium, once one of the largest open air football stadiums in the country and the current site of the Carrier dome.