The Real Thing
In Indiana, “Hoosier Hysteria” is a real thing, a statewide passion for basketball, especially at the high school level. Once ubiquitous, the historic gyms that hosted local games are disappearing, victims of school consolidation and new construction.
In Marshall County, one such gym needs a champion, and the local school corporation is offering a chance to own an authentic piece of Hoosier basketball history.
Constructed in 1928 to meet new state rules for physical education, the Bourbon Gym (a.k.a. Bourbon Community Building) was built as an addition to the c.1918 Bourbon school building. Generations of “Comets” basketball teams played in the gym, including the winners of boys’ sectionals in 1943, 1950, and 1962. Designed by the Fort Wayne architectural firm Bradley and Babcock—Leroy Bradley’s wife, Cora, graduated from Bourbon High School—the building became a community centerpiece, hosting school plays, dances, assemblies, graduation ceremonies, and movies in addition to athletic events.
Though the 1918 building was eventually demolished, replaced by newer school buildings nearby, the gym continued to serve as a community gathering place and venue for summer basketball leagues. However, construction of a new modern activities center at the current high school leaves the historic gym with an uncertain future as the school corporation has no plans for the property and no funds for its ongoing maintenance.
Triton School Corporation is inviting proposals for the long-term lease or sale of the gym, seeking individuals or organizations with ideas for the historic building’s reuse and funds for its rehabilitation. The Bourbon Gym is listed in the National Register, which could make it eligible for preservation tax credits. It remains the best-preserved early gymnasium in the county, and once the Plymouth gym is demolished next year, the only one.
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