The University of Wisconsin's Red Gym
University of Wisconsin Armory and Gymnasium
The University of Wisconsin Armory and Gymnasium, also known as the Red Gym or Old Red, is located along the shore of Lake Mendota at the eastern edge of the University of Wisconsin campus. In 1881 the University's President, John Bascom, began lobbying for a gymnasium that could be used for both military drill and gymnastic exercises. At the time, physical education, especially for male students, was becoming an important part of the University's curriculum. However, it was not until March 12, 1891 that the Legislature approved the bill allowing the armory and gymnasium to be built. From the outset, the Armory was used for more than university athletic and military functions. An 1894 rally, featuring U.S. President William McKinley, was its first political use. In 1904 the Armory was the site of the controversial Wisconsin Republican Convention. At the convention Robert M. La Follette's Progressive won control of the Wisconsin Republican Party. The 1904 "Gymnasium Convention" holds national significance in the history of the Progressive Movement.