- Marion, AR
- Site Type:
- Gymnasiums, Education and Health, Schools
- New Deal Agencies:
- Public Works Funding, Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works
- Wessell Construction Company
- Quality of Information:
- Very Good
- Site Survival:
A gymnasium/auditorium was built for Marion High School in Marion, Arkansas in 1938-39 with a funding from the state Department of Education and the federal Public Works Administration (PWA) – also known as the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (see plaque). (The high school paper at the time made the common mistake of confusing the PWA with the WPA (Works Progress Administration)).
The new structure was built across the street from the old Marion High School on E. Military Road. According to the Marion High School Yearbook of 1942, it included typing and bookkeeping rooms, two music rooms, a biological laboratory, a craft shop, and a ‘finishing room’, along with the gymnasium/auditorium. The latter held a basketball court, bleachers to seat 500, and associated boys and girls dressing rooms, as well as a stage for when the space served as an auditorium.
The structure is a handsome example of brick Moderne architecture, with two faux stone entrances. It is single-story with large window and minimal decoration, except for the bas-relief columns and arch around the entrances and two sculptural scrolls along the central roof line. The interior of the gymnasium appears largely unchanged from its original form.
The old high school across the street later became an elementary school, which continued to use the old gym for many year. Now, the old school build has been torn down and replaced, and the elementary school recently built another gymnasium on the other side of the road. With that, the school district gifted the gymnasium/auditorium building to the Sultana Historical Preservation Society, which runs the Sultana Disaster Museum dedicated to telling the story of the ill-fated steamboat Sultana. The plan is to renovate the structure for use by the museum (as of 2022).
FEAPW plaque on the school
"Marion's Auditorium-Gymnasium Now Under Construction," Marion School News, October 19, 1938, p. 1.
Spartonian Yearbook, 1942.
Site originally submitted by Wyly Bigger on December 26, 2022.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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