The YMCA serves more than 30 million people in over 120 countries worldwide. When most people think of the YMCA, they think of fitness, spiritual enrichment, and family fun. In fact, YMCA’s are the biggest non-profit community service organizations in the USA (YMCA.net). Seldom do people equate a good college education with YMCA activity; however, there were a few at Davidson College who thought otherwise.
In 1888 Henry Louis Smith, a professor at Davidson College, who soon after became president, initiated the request for a YMCA on campus. Since 1855, the “Williams Society” serviced the spiritual needs of Davidson men, and by 1879 they had become known as the campus YMCA. Dr. Smith lobbied fifty surrounding churches until he came up with the $4,000 to pay for the cost of construction. The YMCA would be called the Morrison Memorial Hall, to commemorate the first President of Davidson College (Old Gym is Demolished: Morrison Hall).
Construction started in 1890 and was completed two years later (Davidson College
Bulletin). Morrison Hall was the only building constructed on campus between the civil war and 1900; furthermore, it was the first college YMCA building in the South (Graham).
The YMCA was not just a place to play and exercise. It was a place where the students’ spiritual needs were serviced. One Davidson College student said it best. “The badge of our association is the triangle emblematic of the perfect man… the man spiritual, the man intellectual, the man physical” (The Gymnasium). The new YMCA planned to address all aspects of the complete man. Another Davidson College student also commented, “As I look back over the years I believe that the college YMCA had more to do with the development of my spiritual life than the church” (Lingle 55).
In its fifty-five years of service, Morrison Hall served as a study hall, gymnasium, skating rink, lecture hall, dormitory, class rooms, biological lab, R.O.T.C. armory and storeroom, and student store. In these years it has been known as “Morrison Hall,” “The Eagles Nest,” “Jackson Hall,” and “The Stud.” However, as Davidson College grew and evolved, the old YMCA building became more and more unattractive. Eventually its historical architecture became and unsightly “eyesore,” and the building was torn down in 1945 (Old Gym is Demolished: Morrison Hall).
Although Morrison Hall no longer stands, student’s needs for spiritual enrichment and physical fitness still exist. These days, Davidson College Presbyterian Church provides for the spiritual needs of the campus. On the other hand, Alvarez Student Union and Baker Sports Complex provide for the fitness aspect of the students.
Intramurals, Morrison Hall, Cake Race, and Lake Campus & Lake Wiley – Works Cited
Beaty, Mary D. A History of Davidson College. Davidson: Briarpatch Press, 1988.
Berkin, George. “Tally Ho!: Davidson Students Will Be Able To Ride.” Newsclipping. Athletics- Horsebacking Davidsoniana File. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC
Blodgett, Jan. Personal Interview. 14 October 2003.
Conn, Robert. “Virginia Runner Takes The Cake.” Newsclipping. Cake Race Davidsoniana File. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Currie, Robert A. Letter to Mr. Sammy W. Cross. 14 December 1965. RG 2/1.14. Presidents Office D. Grier Martin. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Davidson College. Davidson Monthly 1896-97. Vol. 13: 209.Davidson College. Davidson Monthly 1892-93. Vol. 8: 403-4
Davidson College. Lake Norman NC Page. 19 October 2003. http://www.lakenormannc.com/
Davidson College News Bureau. Davidson: Lake Campus, 1963.
Dittman, Duane A. Letter to Mr. James W. Howard. 29 December 1977. Huntersville Hardwoods, Inc. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Giduz, Bill. “Making a Splash: Lake Campus Celebrates Forty Years of Fun in the Sun.” Davidson Journal Fall 2003: 19.
Graham, John B. “The Love Nest” Newsclipping, c. 1945. Morrison Hall- YMCA Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Lake Campus Regulations and Information. Lake Campus Davidsoniana File. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC
“Lake Norman Facts.” Lake Norman Monster Page. 19 October 2003. http://www.lakenormanmonster.com/lake.shtml
Lingle, Walter L. Memories of Davidson College. Richmond, Virginia. Knox Press, 1947.
Mayer, Barbara. “Let Them Eat Cake.” Davidson Journal. 1987.
Davidson College “Morrow Comes In First In Freshmen Cake Race.” Davidsonian. 13 Nov. 1930.
“Old Gym is Demolished:Morrison Hall serves Davidson College for Half Century.” c.1945. Morrison Hall- YMCA Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
“On your mark…get set…go for CAKE!” Newsclipping. Cake Race Davidsoniana File. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
“One Hundred and Ninth Session Opens: Old Morrison Hall Demolished.” The Davidson College Bulletin, c. 1945. Morrison Hall- YMCA Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives. Davidson, NC
Photograph of Boating at the Lake Campus. Photograph Collection, number 9-0637. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Photograph of Boating on Lake Wiley. Photograph Collection, number 29-0265. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Photograph of Colleen Faes ’04 Women’s First Place. “First Year Students Conclude Orientation with Annual Cake Race.” Davidson News and Events.
Photograph of Davidson Students Rowing during Freshmen Orientation. Photograph Collection, number 27-0269. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Photograph of Fun & Games During Freshmen Orientation. Photograph Collection, number 27-0278. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
<http://www2.davidson.edu/news/news_archives/archives00/00.08cakerace.html>. 20 October 2003.
Photograph of Missy Willis winner of ’86 Cake Race. Photograph Collection, number 27- 0523. Davidson College Archives, Cake Race, Davidson, NC.
Photograph of Mrs. Daisy Whittle and a winner from the ’63 race. Photograph of Sterling T. Martin Jr. ’63. “Let Them Eat Cake.” Davidson Journal.1987:20-24.
Photographof runners from class of ’74. Photograph Collection, number 27-1467.
Sailstad, Robert J. Letter to Mr. Currie. 17 August 1962. Lake Norman Recreational Area. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Scott, Tom. Memorandum to Bob Currie. 7 July 1964. Lake Campus. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Sailstad, R.J. Letter to President Martin. 17 July 1963. Lake Campus. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC.
Shaw, Cornelia Rebekah. Davidson College. New York: Fleming H. Revell Press, 1923.
Skinner, Carrington. “Sweet Success for Winners of the 73rd Annual Cake Race.” Davidsonian. 2003. Davidson College Archives, Cake Race, Davidson, NC.
“The Gymnasium.” Davidson College Magazine December 1898: 160-161
YMCA.net. YMCA of the USA. Oct 19, 2003 <http://www.ymca.net>
Author: Jonathan Hubbard
Date: October 2003
Cite as: Hubbard, Jonathan. “Morrison Hall: The Old YMCA” Davidson Encyclopedia October 2003 <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/morrison-hall-ymca/>
Related Links: Guide to Campus Buildings