The Birth of Gregory Gym

Today Gregory Gym is an ultramodern facility boasting everything from an indoor track to a luxury pool (complete with palm trees) to a billiards room. It’s come a long way from its humble beginnings more than a century ago.

In 1907, the Ex-Students’ Association appointed Thomas Watt Gregory to chair a committee that would raise funds for a new men’s gymnasium. It was a wise choice.

Gregory, known as “Watt” to his friends, graduated at the top of UT’s second law class in 1885. Though he pursued a career in law, the University was one of his favorite interests.

“As soon as the ink dried on his diploma he took up alumnising,” wrote his classmate Venable Proctor. “Whenever the University needed anything, and of course, it has needed everything, Gregory proceeded to go after whatever gender the thing was.”

Gregory was the first UT graduate to serve on the Board of Regents, and was appointed U.S. Attorney General by President Woodrow Wilson.

Initial fundraising progress for the gym was slow but steady. After almost 20 years, Gregory and his committee had raised and invested $65,000.

When Gregory became president of the Association in 1927, he asked the Board of Regents to expand the project to include a women’s gym and student union building. Under Gregory’s spirited leadership, the Association’s “Union Project” was off and running.

Through the early 1930s—the initial years of the Great Depression—the Texas Exes contributed more than $600,000 to build the Texas Union, Gregory Gym, Anna Hiss Gym, and Hogg Auditorium.

Read more about the history of Gregory Gym—including how it hosted everything from rowdy boxing matches to jazz legend Louis Armstrong and poet T. S. Eliot—in “Gym of Dreams,” coming soon in the March|April Alcalde.


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