Then and Now: History Edition
Press & Dakotan

Then and Now: History Edition


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    PAGE 6C: THEN & NOW PRESS & DAKOTAN n MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 The opening of Nash Gym after World War II was a game-changer not only for Yankton College but also the entire community. (Photo: Dakota Territorial Museum) The Forgotten Palace Few People Recall How Big A Deal YC s Nash Gym Was BY DILLON DWYER P PHOTO: DAKOTA TERRITORIAL MUSEUM Nash Gym was originally an airport hangar that was brought to town and converted into a basketball facility for Yankton College and the City of Yankton. For years, it was a top event center in the region, hosting countless basketball games and of course, drawing in thousands of kids to watch the Shrine Circus. BELOW: Today, Nash Gym stands as mute testimony to Yankton College s past. The facility is now part of the Yankton Federal Prison Camp. KELLY HERTZ/P&D Pool From Page 5C $99,640 or about $1,053,957 in today s money. Larson said the pool itself saw a number of changes through the years, including: 1977-1978 The original diatomaceous earth filter was replaced with two high-rate sand filters, and a gutter system was installed around the pool. A new concrete floor was also installed in the shallow end of the pool at this time. The cost of the upgrades was $245,446. 1989 The bath house was given a $78,924 renovation. 1991 Deck improvements, including pool furniture, a retaining wall and additional space were undertaken at a cost of $30,828. 1999 The chemical feed system was updated. 2006-2007 Youth waterslides were added, as well as a pool heater. 2008-2009 Shade umbrellas were added in the main pool and wading pool areas. NOW Today, the Yankton pool is as popular as it s ever been and yet, also showing its age. We re starting to see the highrate sand filters and the gutter system, being 40 years old now it s getting towards the end of its useful life, Larson said. Between the concrete, the stainless steel gutter, and the filter system, it just takes a little bit longer every spring to get everything operational, so eople may not remember how much of a big deal the construction of the Nash Gymnasium was to Yankton and the surrounding communities in the late 1940s. But throughout the years few places have housed as many events, banquets and competitions as the Nash Gym. Constructed around the frame of a converted World War II airplane hangar, Nash Gym was built by Yankton College and served as the premier event center for the Yankton area for more than four decades before being obtained by federal government and converted into a minimum security prison recreation center. Over the years, there were a lot of events held in the Nash Gymnasium, said Bob Winter, graduate of Yankton College and former activities director at Yankton High School. It was to some extent the equivalent of what the archery center is for the community today. It was an economic boost. The Huron Arena and Sioux Falls Arena didn t exist at the time, so the Corn Palace and the Nash Gymnasium were the major places where events happened. The facility was a hotbed for athletic activity, said Ron Bertsch, former athletic director, coach and basketball player at Yankton College. Athletically, we could do more things in there than most communities because of the length and size of the building. If you were a baseball, tennis or track athlete, you could practice in there all year round. It even had a separate weight room to help give area athletes an added advantage. In June 1949, the pieces of the hangar set to become the gym were shipped along the Milwaukee Railroad from the an engineering depot in Granite City, Illinois, on two 15-foot railroad flatcars containing 15 boxes weighing a total of 116 tons. Gaining the inspiration for the project while watching Army engineers we open a little bit later in the spring than we d like to. However, he added that the pool had one of its best years ever in 2017, with 19,012 people utilizing the pool. The 11-year average for attendance is 16,812. Once you get everything working, get the water in the spring, get the chemicals in it and get the water balanced, we ve got the four diving boards that are pretty popular, the two youth slides do get quite a bit of use from the younger kids, we have a basketball hoop that kids can play on, we have the wading pool. That has pretty good attendance throughout the summer when that facility is open with parents and real little kids, Larson said. Additionally, the pool hosts swim lessons and various swim meets throughout the summer. erect fabricated hangers during his time in the military, Carl Youngworth, athletics director at Yankton College from 1923-1958, championed the idea to turn one into an approximately 150-foot x 185-foot gymnasium with a seating capacity of up to 7,000 people at Yankton College. Youngworth was a dominant force in establishing Nash Gymnasium, Winter said. He was the longtime track coach who put Yankton College on the map nationally with the runners and athletes he brought in and produced. You can t mention Nash Gymnasium without Carl Youngworth. U.S. Sen. Chan Gurney of Yankton partnered with Youngworth to help bring the dream of Nash Gym to reality. Gurney was instrumental in acquiring the surplus hangar through the War Assets Administration. He applied for the federal assistance that would be necessary to build the structure, which would be recognized as a physical education facility for war veterans at the college. The new gymnasium would also serve as a memorial to the 28 men from Yankton College who lost their lives during World War II. Sen. Chan Gurney and Carl Youngworth thought that Yankton College needed a bigger building than what Fargo had at the time, Bertsch said. After the end of World War II, they managed to find a way to get that airplane hangar to Yankton. Alfred H. Boherg of the Federal Works Administration of St. Paul was named project engineer for the development of Nash Gym, which during its early construction was known as the Yankton College fieldhouse. He supervised the building of the structure as part of the Veteran s Project and construction was done under the Lanham Act, which allowed congressional-approved construction on veteran s educational facilities, under the administration of the Federal Works Agency. Yankton College used to have a pilot training program linked to the United States Army, Winter said. I think that was part of the reason they were able But age is catching up to the Fantle Memorial Park pool. Also, modern aquatics facilities offering more accessibility and activities have popped up in Vermillion; Sioux Falls; Norfolk, Nebraska; and other regional towns and are drawing pool users away from Yankton. So, some are taking a look to the future. Diving right into the issue is the citizen s group Dive In Yankton. Earlier this year, coordinator Josh Svatos told the Press & Dakotan that the 15-member group has been reaching out to professional entities and the public to come up with a concept for a new pool. We have a passion about seeing this project become a reality, Svatos said. We re working in conjunction with the city, Stockwell Engineers (and) Water Technology to put a plan together, bring it NASH | PAGE 13C to the community and seek their input on something that is reasonable, practical and that we can all be proud of. A public meeting was held in June of this year to gather ideas from residents about what they d like to see in a new facility. Afterwards, design professionals went to work on bringing those ideas together with the aim of presenting their findings in the fall. Dive In Yankton will also work on fundraising to help offset some of the pool s costs. For the near-term future, Larson said the current pool will remain a Yankton fixture. Memorial pool as we know it will be open in 2018, unless something major would happen on the mechanical side, he said. Follow @RobNielsenPandD on Twitter.
    The Forgotten Palace