1939 - Dexter Gymnasium - Dexter, Missouri
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 36° 47.424 W 089° 57.846
16S E 235510 N 4075720
Quick Description: Historic WPA funded gymnasium in Dexter, Missouri.
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 7/29/2013 8:50:37 PM
Waymark Code: WMHP5Z
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
Views: 2

Long Description:

"The Dexter Gymnasium is located in a quiet, middle-class, residential area in the center part of Dexter. When constructed completed c. 1939, the building was considered nowhere near the city proper. It was built on land that had been donated (for $1.00) to the school district by local residents Albert H. And Bess G. Carter in 1923. 1 The gym was first considered by the local school board as part of several school projects in 1935. The building was designed by Sikeston architect, J.L Sutterfield. Mr. Sutterfield was only educated in school through the eighth grade, however he self-taught the requirements to be considered a certified architect. Little is known of J.L. Sutterfield but his work reflects the popular designs of that time. The design plans were presented to the Works Progress Administration in 1935. It was approved by the WPA in 1938. Construction began in 1939 and it was completed in 1940...

Prior to the completion of the gymnasium, high school basketball games were played at the gym located within the high school building. It was very small with virtually no space for spectators. The local newspaper dedicated front-page space for high school athletics so it is evident that school sports teams were very important to the community. During these troubled times, attendance at local athletic events was an inexpensive vehicle for communication amongst the citizens and it was a means for demonstrating ones pride and enthusiasm for the community. Once the then "new" gymnasium was completed, it was recognized as one of the finest buildings of its kind in the whole area. Still today, there are many school and/or sanctioned wrestling matches, volleyball games, basketball games, and other events held in the gym. The gymnasium has always been more than just a building to the community. It is an embodiment to the town's history, a common place where many citizens have come together. There are many shared experiences-a common thread that runs through the lives of many...

Part of the philosophy behind the construction of public buildings by the WPA included erecting buildings to hold and promote cultural programs. The stage area of the gymnasium provided a wonderful platform for the community to attend a wide variety of events, performances, and concerts. One of the gymnasiums greatest strengths has been its ability to serve so many varied functions. While athletic competition was a very important function of the gymnasium, many other types of activities, of equal relevance, have taken place. Over the years the gymnasium has hosted a variety of special events and performances. Of a special note, famous stars from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee (Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, The Blue Grass Quartet, etc., to name just a few), gave several performances at the gymnasium that were very popular. Periodical local, and traveling, theater productions were anxiously awaited by the community. With the freedom, and right, to vote for our political leaders in mind, many political gatherings and speeches have taken place in the gymnasium." There have been many ceremonial events upon the stage. One of people's most fixed memories is the day of high school graduation and its ceremony. Many students, and parents, retain fond memories of receiving their high school diploma upon the stage and going on to fruitful and productive lives within our society...

The Dexter Gymnasium is an excellent example of the Art Deco style architecture of the late 1930's." - National Register Nomination

The gym was built to be the high school gymnasium, after a new high school was built the gymnasium was sold by the school system to the city of Dexter. It continues to serve as a gymnasium for the community.

The gymnasium was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

Year of construction: 1939

Cross-listed waymark: [Web Link]

Full inscription:
Erected 1939 By Board of Education And W.P.A. Architect J.L. Sutterfield Construction Supt. L.E. Thrower


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