ustin Gymnasium

In 1871, the Alumni Association proposed that a gymnasium for men be constructed in conjunction with the first twenty-five years of the existence of the University at Lewisburg. The Trustees appointed a committee of five "....with power to act in any way not involving expense to the Board and that they be instructed to obtain suitable professional advise [sic] before deciding upon character of the building or location." Dr. Francis Wayland Tustin, Class of 1856 and Professor of Greek from 1860 to 1887, headed the building committee. After his death in 1887, a decision was made to name the building in his honor. Alumni and friends initially pledged $ 5,000.00 for the project. The first responsibility of President John H. Harris was to raise enough subscriptions over the initial pledge to construct the building. Ground was broken in 1889 and the building, not yet fully completed, was dedicated.Tustin Gymnasium was completed in 1890. The basement contained rooms for student lockers, dressing rooms and showers. A running gallery six feet wide surrounded the gymnasium at a height of twelve feet above the main floor.

Exercise for Academy and Male College Students

In 1895, William Rae Harper and Willard Maine Bunnel, the Directors of the Gymnasium, “….examine[d] every [College] student, taking and recording in a book his physical measurements, and prescribe[d] such exercises as [were] required for his physical development.” Regular exercise was required of all College students during the Winter Term. Academy students used the gymnasium for physical exercise in the winter and “…. during inclement weather at other seasons.” The Directors of the Gymnasium gave “…. regular class exercises to students of the Academy….”, and the students were required to take physical training in the gymnasium during the Winter Term.

The Athletic Association of the College

The University regulated athletic competition. The Athletic Association of the College, which had been formed to "encourage and regulate sports", was “…. not allowed…. to arrange matches with other similar bodies without first having secured the consent of the Faculty,”and the Athletic Association of the Academy, which encouraged and regulated sports, was “…. allowed to arrange match games with other similar bodies by first securing the consent of the Principal.”


Bucknell played its first season of varsity basketball in 1896 and achieved a 1-3 record with a victory over the Lock Haven Y.M.C.A and losses to Bloomsburg State Normal School, the Wilkes-Barre Y.M.C.A., and the Williamsport Y.M.C.A. The season began on February 14 and ended on February 28. The basketball team, which was coached by a student, disbanded early in 1896 to begin baseball practice. Basketball teams continued to have student coaches until 1908.

The College Athletic Field: Football

The College athletic field was located between Tustin Gymnasium and the intersection of University Avenue and Loomis Street, which is at the right in the photograph. The field was at the base of the hill upon which Old Main had been erected. Football games were played on this field until a stadium was constructed in 1924. In 1895, Bill Young was the coach, and the football team posted a 5-2 record with victories over Franklin & Marshall, Wyoming Seminary, Gettysburg, Carlisle, and Dickinson. Bucknell was defeated by Pennsylvania and Penn State. Young was the first football coach. From 1883, when the University at Lewisburg played its first football game and was defeated by Lafayette 50-0, until 1895 the football teams had student managers.

Pennsylvania State College played its first official football game at Bucknell in Lewisburg on November 5, 1887 and won the contest, 54-0. Later that month on Novermber 19, Penn State won its first home game when it defeated Bucknell 24-0 in a game played on the lawn in front of "Old Main" on the Penn State campus. From 1891 to 1900, Bucknell and Penn State met on the football field every year. Penn State won seven games and Bucknell won three. From 1894 to 1900, the games were played in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where in 1895 Penn State defeated Bucknell 16-0 before a crowd of 4,000.


In 1886 Bucknell began intercollegiate competition in baseball and posted a 1-2 record, losing twice to Penn State and defeating Gettysburg College. Nine years later in 1895, Bucknell played an eleven game schedule beginning April 10 and ending June 6 and the baseball team posted a 7-4 record. The baseball diamond was located on the Athletic Field.


While a student, Bromley Smith, Class of 1895, organized what was known as “Field Day” into a “track meet”, thus becoming the “Father of Track Athletics” at Bucknell. In 1896, Bucknell finished last at the University of Pennsylvania Relay Races, which was the first official record of a Bucknell track meet. Bucknell won the Penn Relays in both 1897 and 1898. In 1899, Bucknell competed in its first dual meet, losing to Penn State,62-34, and finished second in the Penn Relays.

Tustin Gymnasium was the only building not funded and built by William Bucknell during his tenure as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The building visible at the left in the photograph beyond the gymnasium was the house owned by Dr. George G.Groff, who founded the Biology Department. It later became the Ziegler Infirmary.

"with power to act..." BT '46-'82 (6/26/1871)

"examinne[d] every..."CAT '94-'95 , p.58

"during inclement weather..." CAT '94-'95, p.80

"regular class exercises..." Ibid.

",,not allowed...to.." CAT '95-'95, p.58

"allowed to arrange..." CAT '94-95, p. 81.

The major sources for the information on this page are the Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, 1882-1920 (BT '82-'20) and statistics and information supplied by Bucknell Athletic Communications. Additional sources are Oliphant, Rise of Bucknell; Theiss, Centennial History;the 1895, 1896, 1897 and 1898 L'Agendas; and the Forty-fifth Annual Catalogue of Bucknell University, 1894-95 (CAT '94-95) and the Forty-sixth Annual Catalogue of Bucknell University, 1895-96 (CAT '95-'96)

This building in other years: 1915 | 1945 | 1965 | 1985 | Current
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