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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

A Century of Excellence: Historic Mooresville Gym



Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


For over a century, the Historic Mooresville Gymnasium has provided a home for basketball. No longer a home for high school hoops, the building is now home to members of the Mooresville Junior Basketball League. In an area where buildings over the after 40 years are abandoned and left to deteriorate, times have not been a foe to one of Indiana’s oldest basketball arenas.


The genesis of the gymnasium began when a railway conductor, Virgil Self would talk constantly with city passengers about the need for a home for basketball in town. The idea took off in the summer of 1920 when 94 residents and merchants loaned $100 each to the Mooresville High School Athletic Association. Construction began in the fall and the building would be dedicated on New Year’s Eve.


Communications Director, Mooresville Schools, Susan Haynes took me on a tour of the building and share its history with me.


“The Mooresville Gymnasium began its life as a community center built with donations from the townspeople and it has held that special place in our community’s heart for a century. Those who’ve lived here know that our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents all have great memories in that building.”

The crowd that took in the inaugural ceremonies watched an array of events from an orchestra, a tug-of-war contest, and four basketball games. The portions of the proceeds were used to pay off the debts from the loans and all families that had loaned money were given free passes to attend the home basketball games for the coming season. That would turn into free passes for life for many individuals instead of being paid back for their initial loans.


The building would house the Mooresville High School basketball team until the 1959 season and then serve as the home arena for the middle school program until 1965. It was then used primarily for the junior basketball league which would take sole possession of the property in 1993. By this time, the building needed major renovations, and that is when school administrators, civic leaders, and junior basketball league officers took action.


The Save Newby Gym Committee was formed in 1996 and worked until renovations were completed in the fall of 1999. A grant from the Lilly Endowment for $77,150, along with funds raised by the committee through their efforts was enough to complete the much-needed renovations to the aging gym.





Due to their hard work, the renovations included improving the structural integrity of the north wall, building and painting the bleachers, replacing all of the windows, adding a new basketball court, and the installation of handicap accessible bathrooms and seating. The improvement also included evicting numerous bats from the building.


The gym was dedicated on September 11, 1999. A historical marker sits outside the building along the main road into town and the place has never looked so good. The place has a few donated items from past graduation classes that include the former game clock and scoreboard, curtains for the stage, and an encased monogram M from the classes of 1954, 1955, and 1956.


“When I walk on that stage, I know my grandmother walked across it for her graduation and my mother was there for elementary school and junior high plays, programs, and more,” Haynes added. Those memories and that legacy are worth preserving for generations to come.”

The gym now has a capacity of 500 people and the upstairs balcony, one home to additional seating, is now a small concession area with a few tables that perhaps provide the best seats in the house overlooking the east end of the building. The simple block M is the court’s center logo. 





However, the gymnasium is much more than a place for basketball. It has served the town in many facets throughout its over 100 years of life. To an Indiana high school basketball fan, there is enough appeal to visit the gymnasium, but to someone from out-of-state, the gym is a tourist destination, explains Haynes.


“I think to a non-Hoosier you might say it’s just an old gym, but this building was the home of high school plays, graduations, concerts, and sports throughout the 1950s; junior high and elementary plays, programs, and more through the 1980s; and community youth sports into the 2020s. The Mooresville Gymnasium doesn’t just have an amazing basketball legacy, it has an amazing community legacy as well.”





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Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunterand his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com

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