Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Looking Back: Dorchester's Old Gym


Hard to believe, but it has been nearly nine years now.

Friday, April 18, 2008 marked the very last high school dance held in what was referred to as Dorchester School's "old gym" -- also known as the multi-purpose room, to younger generations. 

Despite the razing of the 1927 school building in May 2008, good memories of the old gym still linger in the hearts and minds of Dorchester alumni.

Looking back, the tiny arena was put into use immediately upon the building’s completion in December 1927, according to the Dorchester Centennial History Book. For the next 40 years, it showcased all the school's indoor sports, drama, music, speech, prom and homecoming activities.

Throughout the years, the gymnasium housed some tremendous talent, including the 1937-38 DHS boys basketball team, which made it to the Class B semi-finals of the Nebraska State Basketball Tournament.

With its tile floors and cramped corners, the old gym had a seating capacity of only 200 people. 

Basketball was no longer played in the old gym after the 1964 season, due to the completion of the school's new addition and current gymnasium -- both of which were approved by the district’s voters for a total of $296,000 in May 1963.

But for an additional 43 years, the old gym continued to serve as the venue for junior high and high school plays, as well as speech activities. 

The old gym was often the site of the DHS prom, and it housed the DHS homecoming dance for at least 70 consecutive years, going back to the mid-1930s.

When the 1927 school building was reduced to rubble in May 2008, many good memories were relived in the minds of former DPS students.

It is very likely that no other area of the building will ever be remembered quite as fondly as Dorchester's "old gym."

If you are old enough to remember it, share your favorite memories in the comments section below.

11 comments:

  1. It seems like only yesterday when my brother Kelly and Cory R. where darn near burning a hole in the floor when they used to dance to "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince and the Revolution. I've never seen anyone do the ol' junior high side to side shuffle like those two. I think Ron Sehnert had to replace some floor tile after those two were done! In addition, having 250 lb dates didn't help matters much! HA! Just Kidding!

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  2. Nice post. Good work by the dorchester times!!! I will miss seeing the old gym and so will my kids. By the way I think its halarious that the Crete newspaper is spending so much ink and space to attack your internet blog. Why would they care, other than you correct their errors. Maybe you have more readers and they're worried. I don't blame you and your helpers for not revealing who your identities. What would it prove? If people don't like it they don't have to read it. Besides I think some of the mystery would go away. This website keeps the town on its toes. That is why I have it book marked as a favorite.

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  3. Weight Watcher says:

    The picture of the basketball team is interesting in that it reflects how obese America has become. Despite growing up on hearty German/Czech cusine, the team looks fit and trim compared to the population of today.

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  4. It was a shock when I first read that they were tearing down the school. It brought back so many memories that I had completely forgotten about, Mrs. Williams handing me my first detention, the kickin Apple IIe's we played Math invaders on, sitting on one side of the old gym at my first dance in junior high, terrified of looking like a fool if I were to try to dance, etc, etc, etc. While I am completly for the new construction, it is sad to see the old building fall. When you move away it is easy to just assume that everything will stay the same.

    My kids go to school in a much larger community. They change schools for elementary, middle school, and High school. It's common knowledge that as Dorchester graduates we have relationships with our classmates that city kids can't share. But what is more is the building itself. We didn't just go to school there, we grew up within those same walls, K-12. It is more than a building it is a home, and one that will be missed.

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  5. I remember Bob Zoubek doing his famous bouncing dance after winning homecoming king in 1986. Better yet cheerleader Anne Kovar made my year by asking me to dance even though I was only a freshman.

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  6. I grew up in Dorchester and graduated from there many years ago but my memories of the dances and activities in that old gym are still intact. All the crepe paper and streamers across the entire width of the gym and the countless yards of paper on the walls for painting on. The stage also holds a lot of memories as the plays took place there. My daughter who goes to another local school has done speech contests in that old gym and I told her of the wonderful times that we had there. Many tears will be shed when that building falls. I will be there. Is there going to be a walk through before they knock it down? I hope so.
    PS I can't imagine Cory R. and Kelly doing ANY dance anywhere. I know for a fact that Cory doesn't like to dance! Way to go big guys!!!!

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  7. Best memory is David Reiss DJ'ing a dance in 1990. You had to be there. It was "Total Power."

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  8. I have many memories of the old gym myself. Like stated by others, Homecoming dances and Jr High dances were usually the highlights of the school year. I also remember the teacher's lounge, the smoke lounge the teachers could use, but the best room off of the old gym was Mr. Powers' office. He was a wonderful, one of a kind man.

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  9. I graduated in 1953. The old gym was built with a maple wood floor. About my freshman year the termites got to the floor and once in awhile your foot would kinda sink into the floor. They replaced it with concrete and I remember a lot of us suffered with shin splints after that. There were very few floors in our conference that where the three circles overlapped each other. The out of bounds line on the sides was about 6 inches from the wall. When I was in Jr. high I kept score for the games. The scoreboard was a piece of plywood up on the stage with some tin numbers that I would turn over after each basket. In around 1949 they purchased an electric scoreboard that was place on the north wall. Had a lot of fun in that old gym Roger Schmidt

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  10. I graduated in 1953. The old gym was built with a maple wood floor. About my freshman year the termites got to the floor and once in awhile your foot would kinda sink into the floor. They replaced it with concrete and I remember a lot of us suffered with shin splints after that. There were very few floors in our conference that where the three circles overlapped each other. The out of bounds line on the sides was about 6 inches from the wall. When I was in Jr. high I kept score for the games. The scoreboard was a piece of plywood up on the stage with some tin numbers that I would turn over after each basket. In around 1949 they purchased an electric scoreboard that was place on the north wall. Had a lot of fun in that old gym Roger Schmidt

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