The College Avenue Gym (aka “The Barn”) turns 80

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 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:

Jefferson Starship
Jerry Garcia Band
Warren Zevon
Boston Symphony
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Harry Chapin
Gene Roddenberry
Alan Alda
Hall & Oates
Smokey Robinson
Gabe Kaplan
Dan Fogelberg
Jackson Browne
Phoebe Snow
Billy Joel
Arlo Guthrie
Brewer & Shipley
Southern, Hillman & Furay
Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions
Hot Tuna
Earth, Wind & Fire
Ohio Players
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Doobie Brothers
Albert King
Don McLean
Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden
Bonnie Raitt
Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob
Parliament & Funkadelic Review
Laura Nyro
David Bromberg
Ralph Nader
Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman
Royal Philharmonic
Country Joe and the Fish
Itzhak Perlman
Isaac Stern
Main Ingredients
Chamber Brothers
Bill Russell
Utah Phillips
Dame Judith Anderson
Eric Anderson
Janis Ian
Edward Muskie
Vladimir, Ashkenazy and the Riverside Singers
5th Dimension
Cannonball Adderley
Muddy Waters
Simon & Garfunkel
Vladimir Horowitz
Judy Collins
Pittsburgh Symphony
Norman Mailor
Critters with Go-Go Girls
Lovin’ Spoonful
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Dionne Warwick
Tommy James & The Shondells
Norman Thomas
William F. Buckley
Kingston Trio
Barry Goldwater
Louis Armstrong
Godfrey Cambridge
Brothers Four
Serendipity Singers
Four Tops
Flip Wilson
Young Rascals
Bob Dylan
Count Basie
Soupy Sales
Miriam Makeba
Trini Lopez
Jackie Mason
Dave Brubeck
Gary U.S. Bonds
Ben E. King
Len Barry
Little Anthony & the Imperials
London Symphony
Dick Gregory
Ian & Sylvia
Woody Allen
Kingston Trio
Pete Seeger
Shelley Berman
Bo Diddley
Ray Charles and the Raelets
Malcolm X
Strom Thurmond
Johnny Mathis
Adlai Stevenson
Sammy Kaye
Jean Shepard
Hubert Humphrey
Arthur Rubenstein
Skitch Henderson
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Woody Herman
Louis Kentner
Count Basie
Issac Stern
Linus Pauling
Jesse Owens
Philadelphia Orchestra
Steve Lawrence
Duke Ellington
Arthur Godrey
Aaron Copeland
James Michener
Anna Russell
Vincent Lopez
Thurgood Marshall
Robert Frost
Mel Torme
Leonard Bernstein
Rudolph Serkin
Gene Krupa
Tommy Dorsey
Sergei Rachmaninov
Ozzie Nelson
Paul Robeson

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!


About VigilantKnight

Living life on my terms.
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