Archive for the ‘Armory’ Category

The Forgotten Pool

Few people remember a pool in the 1929 newly constructed two-story armory and gymnasium building at the University of South Dakota (USD). The New Armory, as the building was called, was designed by renowned Sioux Falls architects Hugill and Blatherwick to serve two purposes: as a military armory and a replacement for the Old Armory (now Belbas Larson Center) women’s gymnasium.  Besides serving as a venue for indoor athletics, the New Armory also housed military equipment and uniforms, classrooms and offices, and the basement contained a shooting range.

              According to his papers, President Slagle was intimately involved in the construction of the building which started construction in 1928. A letter from the architects to President Slagle noted specifics about the swimming pool located on the southeast portion of first floor. A February 5, 1929, Volante article describes the building as 100 by 200 feet. It was large enough to accommodate three basketball courts. The tiled swimming pool was 25 by 75 feet with room on one side for spectator bleachers. Not only did the pool serve USD students and faculty, but Vermillion citizens were also welcome. Pictures of the Dolphins, a women’s swimming group can be found in several Coyote yearbooks from the 1950’s.

Plans of the New Armory 1st floor. (Archives and Special Collections)               


Picture of Dolphins in the swimming pool. Note the tiling. (Coyote Yearbook, 1955)

In 1929 an outdoor pool was constructed in Prentis Park, but it was only operational in the summer, making the New Armory pool available for swimming all year round. Over the years with the increase in student enrollment and growth of athletics, a new structure to house athletics was built called the DakotaDome that opened in 1980. The function of the New Armory also changed as it became home to South Dakota Broadcasting (E. O. Lawrence Telecommunications Center) and USD Military Science Department. In 2003 the building was again renovated and became the Al Neuharth Media Center which is home to the Department of Media and Journalism, the Volante, Freedom Forum, KYOT TV and KAOR radio stations, and South Dakota Public Broadcasting. The pool is still there covered in sand, but not forgotten.

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During the 1980s and 1990s, USD commencement programs often highlighted USD buildings.

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During the 1980s and 1990s, University of South Dakota commencement program covers often presented brief descriptions of USD buildings.




In 2004, this building was remodeled and renamed the Dean Belbas Center. It houses Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid and the Office of the Registrar.



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Presented here is a unique photograph and view of a portion of the University of South Dakota campus. The photograph features “University Park” in the foreground. Behind University Park, one can see the Armory (Al Neuharth Media Center), the North Complex, the Engineering Building, Inman Field, and the Observatory. Of all the structures in this photograph, the Al Neuharth Media Center is the only building still extant.

University Park was designed as housing for veterans who were married during their academic studies after the end of WWII.

Of critical importance was the search for living quarters for married veterans. One possible aid was that new type of compact housing which had emerged during the war, the efficient house trailer. Therefore, application was made to the Federal Housing Authority for surplus trailers, and with encouraging speed fifty of them were in place the second semester of 1945-46 in “Vets’ Villa” at the later location of the Medical and Science Building. By that autumn, one hundred thirty-three would be ready, seventy-six in “Vets’ Villa” and another fifty-seven at “University Park” northwest of the old Union Building. Here life went on in crowded quarters close to the school at monthly rates of $28 and $32 (expansible for those with children.) – The University of South Dakota 1862-1966 by Cedric Cummins (1975) p. 245-246

University Park

University Park


Photograph from the I.D. and Virginia Weeks Papers, Richardson Collection

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