Yale Round Gym Makes History

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In quiet Yale, Iowa, a round building sits in the shadow of the water tower. It’s been a theater, a concert hall, and an arena. Now, it’s a nationally-recognized historic place.

‘I`d never seen a round gym, ever,’ said Brandon Godwin.

Step inside – to step back in time.

‘There`s a lot more to it on the inside than what meets the eye when you first see it.’

The Yale High School Gymnasium was built in 1932.

For nearly 30 years… Band concerts, plays, dances – and basketball.

The Harlem Globetrotters even stopped in.

‘There was wall-to-wall people because they never had a professional team coming in here and playing.’

But the gym closed in 1961, and has lost some of its luster.

So Brandon Godwin led a team that was out to preserve its history.

‘This is new territory for me. I`ve never done anything like this.’

After nearly four years gathering data, a 41-page nomination form was submitted, and in February, the round gym was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places.

‘From there, it kind of took off. I started realizing, hey maybe we can get this on the registry.’

Yale`s high school gymnasium is believed to be the only round gym in the entire state of Iowa. And it`s not very big. With a circumference of 242 feet, you can walk around in the entire building in less than a minute…
…And inside, it`s even more snug. With a wall-to-wall diameter of just 77 feet, I can walk from one end to the other in 25 steps. That includes just six steps from half court to the free-throw line.

‘This one was pretty confined.’

Marvin Smith played hoops in the building.

‘That was out of bounds, that wall. Bleachers over here were out of bounds. The end walls were out of bounds.’

That`s right, the end walls cut off the court`s corners. A unique home court advantage.

‘This thing was totally full. There was a lot of noise in here.’

‘I can`t even grasp how many people were in here cheering, and just trying to concentrate on playing ball.’

With hopes of restoration, the round gym may be back… but regardless, its history is set in stone.

‘Lots of good times in here, you`ll never forget them.’

And now, neither will anyone else. In Yale, Mark Freund, Channel 13 sports.


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