As mentioned in the previous post, the last school year that the old gymnasium was used for junior and senior high school basketball games was 1961–1962. The first official game in the “new” (now current) gym was in the fall of 1962, with the Bright Star junior boys defeating the Bradley junior boys, 26–22. (I remember watching that game from the bench. James Simmons was the Bradley boys’ coach at the time.)
Back to the old gym, though. In 1997, Frank M. Cochran, Jr., wrote the following piece containing his recollections of the construction and early use of the old gym:
“In 1935, the Federal government, through one of its relief programs, agreed to build gyms for several of the schools in Lafayette County. At the time, the sawmill at Stamps had gone out of business. The lumber company gave Bradley a section of tramway (a runway about 8 ft. above the ground). The W. P. A. crew tore down the tram and ran it through a planer mill. The government paid for all the labor, except [for] the foreman. They would only pay three days work for any one man, so the Bradley School Board had to pay the other half of his wages.
The building was a 50 ft. by 90 ft. rectangle for the main part. The studs were 24 ft. long and, diagonally between each four studs, another braced them. The big studs were 6×6 and the others were 2 1/2 x 6. The floor joists were 2 1/2 by 12, planed on the edges only. The subfloor was planed to a 1–inch thickness. The finished floor is of the best grade of pine. About half is 3 inches wide and the rest is 4 inches wide. … The roof trusses are made of lumber in a semicircular shape. The overhead ceiling was installed after World War II. It is of a Masonite-type material. The stage part was 20 x 50 ft. and had dressing rooms on each side and showers downstairs on ground level. The back room, called a kitchen, was about 12 x 30 ft. It was made possible by a gift of $25 by Mrs. McGill. No money was solicited for the project. When completed, the cost for the District was $1,625, including insurance for a year.
The building was heated with wood until natural gas became available in 1940. The electricity was all on one circuit and during plays, etc., it was necessary to have someone near the switch box with a flashlight and a box of fuses. The light fixtures were aluminum wash pans, inverted with a socket installed.
The seating consisted of a double row of seats on each side, the rear row elevated. There was a balcony on each side with one row of seating. In the rear (east), there was a double row of seats. The scoreboard used cardboard painted numbers and was on a very small triangular platform in the southwest corner, level with the balcony.”
Shown below is the front (east) side of the old gym as it appeared in the 1957 Bradley yearbook:
And here is a slightly different view, from the northeast, which shows the north wall and which is taken from the 1959 Bradley yearbook:
The east side of the old gym had two entrances, double doors on both the left and right of the center of that wall. In the center of the east wall itself were two windows, under which a small window for the sale of tickets was located. Below is the best early, relatively close view of that ticket window that I could find, although what group or class is shown in this view and exactly what year it was taken is unknown.
And, finally, below is a photo, in relatively poor condition, which shows an early, very creative use of the front (east) porch of the old gym. It shows what is apparently a backdrop for a dramatic or musical production. Note the piano on the right side of the picture. Judging by some of the automobiles in some other pictures which were apparently taken at the same time as this one, this must have been not very long after the building was constructed in 1935.
The next post will be a look at the interior of the old gym.