Along with sharing stories through his Backroads Indiana columns, Mike Barrett likes visiting old basketball gymnasiums and finding out a little bit about their history.
Here are four he found in Lawrence County. Look for another selection of gymnasiums in a future edition of The Tribune.
Known as “The Quarry,” an old high school gym in Bedford was home to the Bedford Stonecutters for 50 years from 1924 to 1974. A new gym and school were built in 1975 to support the consolidations of several Lawrence County schools to become Bedford North Lawrence.The Quarry remains in excellent condition and now is used for middle school games.During its days as the Stonecutters’ home, this gym held 4,000 people. A renovation removed thousands of seats, but it’s still one of the most beautiful old structures of Hoosier Hysteria left in Indiana.
Story continues below gallery
Bedford always has been a big, big basketball town, so I’m sure it got pretty crazy in there at times.
This old gym built in the late 1940s was used as a high school gym until the 1970s. This is where Indiana basketball legend Damon Bailey played elementary basketball.Heltonville is now a part of the Bedford North Lawrence consolidation.The inside appears to be in good condition.
A gym in Oolitic was built in 1938 and last used as a high school gym until 1974, the year Oolitic and several other schools consolidated to form Bedford North Lawrence.In 1968, Oolitic finished the regular season undefeated at 20-0. That year in this gym, Oolitic beat Floyd Central 131-71.The population of Oolitic is about 1,200 people. Can you imagine how proud this small town was of its basketball team during that 1968 season? They finished the year 23-1, claiming the Bedford Sectional title. Local residents still remember the good old days and when Friday nights meant everything in the community.
There was a pickup game going on in the gym when I took the picture, so it’s good to see it’s still being used.
Like so many other small Indiana communities, there once was a high school in Tunnelton. The gym was used from the 1930s to 1974, as Tunnelton became a part of Bedford North Lawrence in 1975.In the last Tunnelton graduating class, there were 19 students, and there still was great pride for the school and team. In the last basketball sectional Tunnelton played in, it beat Heltonville 86-62 and Shawswick 54-39 but lost to Bedford 58-37 in the finals.The ruination of this old gym is a sad reminder in this small community of what once was a golden era of Hoosier Hysteria. I’m glad I took the pictures because as you can see, it won’t last much longer. Inside the gym, it’s being used as a trash and junk yard, and you can see evidence of a possible temporary shelter for the homeless. So sad.