emorial Stadium

On October 18, 1924, Memorial Stadium was dedicated as a memorial "...to all Bucknell students who served our country in War". The first football game in the new stadium was played that day against Layfayette, which won the contest with a score of 21-3 before 15,000 spectators, and "...the crowd and gate receipts set a record which was not equaled till the Homecoming game with Pennsylvania State College on November 1, 1930." The stadium seated 18,000. (In 1924, the undergraduate enrollment was 963 students; in 1945, the enrollment was 1,439 students, including 353 enrolled in the Navy V-12 Program.)

The Planning and Construction of the Stadium

Carrere and Hastings drew the plans and construction was done by T. J. Foley Co.

When the plans were completed and accepted, a meeting was held at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, in Philadelphia. All bids were found too high, but as Thomas J. Foley, from Pittsburgh, was the lowest bidder, he, the architects, and the officers of the [stadium] commission, got together and agreed upon a contract by which certain modifications were made in the plans and Mr. Foley and the firm of Dresser and Minton of Cleveland, Ohio, agreed to use their organizations and equipment for the construction work for the flat sum of $10,000 in addition to expenses, rentals and repairs on the equipment, with the understanding that final decisions on matters of construction and engineering should rest in the hands of the construction committee appointed by the Stadium Commission.

When completed, “...[t[he total cost of the work done on the South Field and stadium proper was $278,000...” By 1926, “...the ...indebtedness [of the Stadium Commission] was approximately $150,000", but by 1929 the debt had been reduced to $125,000.00. The amount owed on the stadium continued to fall during the 1930's and it reached 79,000.00 in 1937. However, the stadium debt was not paid off until after 1940.

The Mathewson Memorial Gateway

In 1928, the Christy Mathewson Memorial Gateway (not visible in the photograph) was erected at the entrance to the stadium. The Gateway, dedicated June 5, was built in honor of Christy Mathewson who attended Bucknell for three years as a member of the Class of 1902. Mathewson, the famous pitcher for the New York Giants and one of Bucknell's greatest football players, died in 1925 of tuberculosis contracted during his military service in World War I. He is buried in the Lewisburg Cemetery. National organized baseball planned this memorial and contributed money from benefit baseball games. The funds were insufficient, however, and the University paid the deficit of approximately $11,000.

Memorial Stadium was built on a portion of the tract of 170 acres added to the campus in 1920 when the University purchased the George Barron Miller Farm at a cost of $55,000.00. The first building constructed on this land was the Engineering Building; then the stadium was erected; the third building was Vaughan Literature.

The Construction of U.S. Route 15

When the stadium was constructed, U.S. Route 15 did not pass next to it. The right of way for Route 15 was purchased in October, 1929. Construction began the following year. After the completion of this road in the early 1930's, many people began to enter the campus by means of Moore Avenue, rather than by the traditional approaches of South Seventh Street and its extension over the Hill to the River Road or University Avenue.

The 1945 football team had a 2-5 record, winning contests with Scranton and Lafayette. Bucknell was defeated by Villanova, Cornell, Pittsburgh, Temple, and Penn State.

"...to all Bucknell students" MSP, second page

"...the crowd and gate receipts..." MBU, p. 97

"When the plans were completed..." ib.

"...[t]he total cost of..." ib.

"...the...indebtedness..." BT '20'-'50, 12/18/1926, pp. 4-5

The major sources for the information on this page are the Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, 1920-1950 (BT '20-'50) and the Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, 1882-1920 (BT '82-'20). Additional sources are Memorials of Bucknell University, 1919-1931 (MBU '19-'31); records from the Bucknell Registrar's Office; statistics and information supplied by Bucknell Athletic Communications; Memorial Stadium Dedication Program, 10/18/1924 (MSP); a letter from Donald Holdren, PA Department of Transportation, to Russell Dennis, dated 15 February 1996; Map of the Public Roads in Union county Pennsylvania, May 1, 1915; and WPA Maps, 1936.

This building in other years: 1965 | 1985 | Current
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