History of the Center
The 1930s marked a Public Works Administration (PWA) building boom on the University of Arkansas campus. A master plan adopted from the work of architects Jamieson and Spearl of St. Louis called for the style known as Plain Traditional with Collegiate Gothic influences. Projects included stately buildings such as a new library (Vol Walker Hall), the chemistry building, Ozark Hall, Memorial Hall, Gibson Hall, and a new Field House.
In 1935, the Board of Trustees approved a $307,000 loan from the PWA for the Field House, a men’s dormitory, and additional steel stands for the football field. The successful bidder on the Field House, at $128,999, was J.H. Leveck & Son of Little Rock. Architects were Haralson and Nelson of Fort Smith. Unlike other campus buildings of this period, which were faced entirely with limestone, the new Field House was primarily light buff brick, trimmed in limestone. The Field House was completed before the fall semester 1937 and was dedicated on Feb. 4, 1938, during a game with Texas Christian University.
For generations, the space was also used for student registration. Athletic offices were housed in the building in addition to offices, classrooms, and laboratory space for the Department of Physical Education. When Barnhill Arena was built in 1954, the basketball team and the athletic department moved out and the physical education department took over the entire building. In 1984, the Field House was given over to the University Museum, which operated there until 2006 when deferred maintenance issues caused then-Fulbright College Dean Donald Bobbitt to close the building to the general public. Very recently, the space was heated and air conditioned so programs temporarily displaced by other construction could use the facility as an interim home.
The Field House is on the National Register of Historic Places.