On Thursday, January 12, 2012, The College Avenue Gym on the New Brunswick Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey turned 80 years old. Below is a restatement of an article by – who else? – Source from ScarletNation.com that gives insight to the building and the many events it has held over those 80 years.
Happy 80th Birthday To The Rutgers………………….. College Avenue Gymnasium… more affectionately known as The Barn decades later. The Gym hosted its first athletic event on January 6, 1932 when the Rutgers men’s basketball team fell to Syracuse 20-19. The Gym was partially built over the field of the first intercollegiate football game between Rutgers and Princeton on November 6, 1869.
On January 14, 1932, Paul Robeson played a concert before 3,500 at the inaugural winter concert series at the newly opened College Avenue Gymnasium that sits on the site of College Field. The January 16, 1932 Targum reported, “During the intermission, ‘old-timers’ spoke of Robey the football hero but never a member of the glee club. ‘Do you remember,’ one asked, ‘how Robey used to like to sing under the showers?’ The other nodded, then reflected somewhat sheepishly: ‘We were getting our concerts for nothing in those days, but we never had sense enough to know it.’”
The Barn was in use by the men’s team until the R.A.C. opened in 1977. Going backwards, here is a partial list of artists and speakers who have performed at the Barn in the “pre-R.A.C.” years:
Jerry Garcia Band
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Hall & Oates
Brewer & Shipley
Southern, Hillman & Furay
Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions
Earth, Wind & Fire
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden
Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob
Parliament & Funkadelic Review
Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman
Country Joe and the Fish
Dame Judith Anderson
Vladimir, Ashkenazy and the Riverside Singers
Simon & Garfunkel
Critters with Go-Go Girls
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Tommy James & The Shondells
William F. Buckley
Gary U.S. Bonds
Ben E. King
Little Anthony & the Imperials
Ian & Sylvia
Ray Charles and the Raelets
J. Robert Oppenheimer
The Rutgers College Avenue Gymnasium actually is an important spot in the history of New Jersey. In the summer of 1947, state legislators wrote and adopted the current version of the New Jersey State Constitution. For the first time in its history, the people voted the Governor into office. Before, New Jersey’s governor was selected by the state legislature. The position was also made among the most powerful and influential of all the states. There are many appointments in government that is at the sole discretion of the NJ governor unlike many other state’s governorships.
Quick trivia question:
Who are the only two known U.S. Presidents to visit the Rutgers College Avenue Gymnasium? They probably didn’t know that were at (technically over) the site of the first intercollegiate football game.
Hint: one was recent and the other was long ago. Both were not in office at the time of their appearance.
Answer: Bill Clinton, 2009; who is the other?
Happy 80th Birthday Rutgers College Avenue Gymnasium!