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Playbill featuring the Old Gym turret, 1968.


Athletic Facilities
Gyms have often been used for artistic performances because they provide large open spaces. The first to be used in this way was Rensselaer’s “Old Gymnasium,” which was constructed in 1887 and used as a gym until the early 1900s. It was used intermittently by the RPI Dramatic Club (later the RPI Players) until 1929, when the club converted it into the first RPI Playhouse.

By the early twentieth century the Institute had outgrown the Old Gym, and alumni pooled resources to construct a new facility in 1912. Known as the Class of ‘87 Gym, its larger size and convenient location allowed audiences to enjoy musical events in the heart of the campus. Lacking a stage and seating, it was a less than ideal performance space.

The Houston Field House has been heavily used for performances from the mid-20th century to the present. Completed in 1949, its primary use to this day is as a skating rink, where the Pep Band can be heard at home hockey games. The ice surface can be covered temporarily for concerts, which have included everything from classical music to hard rock bands. For many years the Field House also hosted the Campus Carols, a popular musical event at Christmas time.

Next: "Old Gym"


"Old Gym," pre-1930.

Class of '87 Gym, 1940s.

"Old Playhouse", 1941.

"Old Playhouse", 1951.

Houston Field House, 1953.

Class of ’87 Gym, 1948.