Butler Gym (1918)
Merton Tour Stop #2
While intending to enter the Franciscan order, Thomas Merton stayed in the Butler Gymnasium for a short time during the summer of 1940. Butler served as not only a gym but also had offices for athletics and student groups.
The Father Joseph Butler Memorial Gymnasium opened Tuesday, Feb. 12, 1918. It was named after the 8th president of St. Bonaventure.
The process began at a meeting of the Alumni of Saint Bonaventure's College following the Commencement held on June 14, 1914. The minutes of the meeting describe the event:
Under the head of unfinished business the question of erecting a suitable monument to the memory of the late lamented President, Father Joseph Butler, O.F.M., was discussed. When it was ascertained from the remarks of the President, Very Rev. Fidelis J. Reynolds, that a needed addition to the college buildings, and one of the pet projects of the late President, would constitute a most fitting memorial to his splendid educational efforts and achievements, the idea took firm hold of the assembled members. Rev. Dr. Bloomer, when called to give his opinion, suggested that immediate action be taken and asked to be allowed to subscribe five hundred dollars to start with. Other subscriptions came in the following order...
Work didn't begin until the fall of 1915, but, when complete, the facility included bowling alleys, the college store, showers, locker rooms and a swimming pool on the lower level, as well as an open floor marked for basketball, exercise apparatus and a suspended running track on the main level.
After the opening of the Reilly Center, Butler Gym was largely relegated to intramural use and its age began to show. In 1979 a renovation process began with basic repairs to the structure. Even though the ultimate fate of the building was still under discussion, the renovation process continued into 1999.
Farrell, A. E. "The Joseph Butler Memorial." The Laurel. Vol. 20. Feb. 1919, p. 113-116.
Polson, Kristina. "Renovations to Butler underway." The Bona Venture. 24 Sept. 1999, p. 1-2.
For more information about Butler Gym please visit our buildings pages.
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For more information about this building, visit
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Last updated: 11/03/06