KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (WISH) – An historic Indiana landmark is in need of major renovations and the group who is behind it said they need the community’s help.
The Hoosier Gym in Knightstown was made popular by the 1980’s movie “Hoosiers”.
The gym was first built almost a century ago and served as a regular functioning gym up until the middle 60’s.
“I played on the last team that played in this gym in 1966. I was the starting center. I started 20 games at the center of the bench so I didn’t play much and at the time we wanted to go on the road because we thought this place was a dump because all these modern gyms were around. Now, we think it’s a shrine but for me coming back, it’s the impact it has on people when they walk through that door,” said Bob Garner, who is the events coordinator for the Hoosier Gym.
The gym plays an important part in the community.
“It’s used as a community center for the local youth to come in and play basketball after school, or during the day, in fact any time we’re not rented to a group, it’s open to the public to come in and play basketball. We did 70,000 visitors last year from every state in the Union and 16 foreign countries last year and a total of 62 foreign countries over the years,” Garner added.
Garner said the gym needs upgrades to keep it in pristine condition.
“We need a new roof, we need tuck pointing of the bricks outside, and we need new windows. If anything happened to that roof, this gym would be gone and it’s ability to service 70,000 people a year would be gone,” he said.
Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. there will be a public meeting held inside the gym to discuss a potential grant the gym could receive.
The grant would come from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, also known as OCRA.
“Basically the maximum would be $500,000. That sounds like a lot of money but an old building like this to put on a roof, replace 31 windows, and point and tuck the brick, and we have to match 20 percent of that,” said Dr. Neil Shaneyfelt, who is the president of the board of directors.
Shaneyfelt said it is very important that the public shows support and comes to the meeting because that plays a part in if they receive the grant due to the competitive nature of the money.
“When this gym was first opened after the movie ‘Hoosiers’ came out it was here, it was locked up in disrepair and once we got it open as a community center, it started out as just a trickle of visitors. This is great for the community and it’s more than just a community thing honestly, it’s people around the state and even the country and even internationally, we just have visitors from all over enjoy this place,” Shaneyfelt said.
These repairs are something the group has planned on for a while now.
“We’ve been very frugal with our money over the years, scrimped and saved, and pork chop dinners, and starting out very small and we’ve been very frugal. I’m blessed with a board of directors who are fantastically good stewards of all the donations that we’ve received,” Shaneyfelt added.
The gym has received community support already. Recently, the gym was a recipient of a $224,673 gift from the estate of Mary J. Graham, a community member who believed in the gym and its mission. That money was put into an endowment fund and cannot be used for the needed repairs.
“We cannot touch that money. That money is going to be here, that’s going to be in this foundation long after we’re all gone. It’s to preserve, protect this gym in perpetuity so the only money we get from that is the small amount of the interest that the money earns from that endowment fund. The interest amount we do get is used for our normal operating budget,” said Shaneyfelt.
More on The Hoosier Gym can be found here.