In 1950, the state appropriated almost $450,000 for Minot State Teachers College to add a new building to the campus. This building would be used for health and physical education. In the previous 37 years, no gym was located on campus and life during the depression era made it difficult for any progress to take place across the state, let alone at a teachers college.
That changed with the addition of Swain Hall.
When it was originally built, the Swain Health and Physical Education Building housed all the health, physical education and recreation departments on campus, along with extra classrooms for expansion in other departments. The gym opened a few months prior to the rest of the building as the Beavers played their first basketball there in January of 1952 albeit a losing affair to the semi-professional team, the Bismarck Olympics, 44-43.
Move ahead almost 60 years.
With the North Dakota Legislature's appropriation of almost $7.5 million, more than $700,000 in local funds and $5 million in federal stimulus dollars a completely redesigned and renovated Swain Hall is mere days away from officially opening its doors.
What was primarily an athletic facility for more than 55 years now houses the full Department of Teacher Education and Human Performance. Exciting new space has been opened up for a top-notch 21st century Sports Medicine training facility. The Center for the Applied Study of Cognition and Learning Sciences will find its home on the second floor of Swain Hall, along with technology-rich learning labs. The former gymnasium has been transformed into a pedagogy lab for physical education majors/minors and student fitness classes. As well, the remodel includes new classrooms and all-purpose laboratory space, on the third floor.
With the strengthening of our commitment to education, Minot State is recognizing its roots. We started as a normal school, designed to provide the region with the best educators possible. And while we have grown leaps and bounds in becoming a comprehensive, masters-granting regional university we cannot, and will not, forget who we are.
Swain Hall is a big part of our past, and thanks to the diligence of many politicians, long hours by construction workers, flexible Minot State University employees and ever-patient students, Swain Hall will be a big part of our future.
(Lyman is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)