State Historical Society makes grant for Adams State's Rex Activity Center

(12-18-2007)

The Colorado State Historical Society recently awarded Adams State College a $25,000 grant to prepare construction plans for restoration of the Rex Activity Center's stucco exterior, according to Bill Mansheim, Adams State vice president for finance and administration. The building's exterior, with tile roof and white stucco, has not been updated since its construction nearly 70 years ago.

Rex Activity Center, built in 1938-39, is a historical landmark in the center of campus.

"The Rex Center is a campus and community landmark that needs to be preserved," said Adams State President, Dr. David Svaldi. "It is an important symbol of our community's Hispanic heritage, as intended by ASC's first president, Ira Richardson. Our mission statement commits the college to supporting the region's culture."

Mansheim said once the plans are completed in the spring, the college will apply to the Historical Society for a construction grant. He said it is hoped the work can be completed by fall of 2008. The college is requesting the building's inclusion in the City of Alamosa's Historic Registry.

"Rex is in the center of campus and very visible to the community on the corner of First & Stadium," Mansheim added. "It's an important link to the past, a testament to the college's founders and athletic accomplishments, as well as to the P.W.A., which provided original funding."

Rex and the Marvel House (president's residence) are the campus' two remaining Spanish revival buildings, designed by architect William Bowman. He also designed Richardson Hall (oldest building on campus) and Casa del Sol (faculty apartments behind the president's residence). Two additional Spanish revival buildings, Casa Bonita and Kit Carson residence halls for women and men, respectively, were demolished years ago.

The Marvel House, corner of Second and Richardson, is already on the city's historical register, and is being renovated to once again serve as the college president's residence and as a center for special events.

Gym a P.W.A. gem

Long known as Rex Gym, the building was constructed in 1938-39 with funds from the P.W.A. (Public Works Administration). The Roosevelt Administration established the P.W.A. in 1933 to provide employment and revive American industry after the Great Depression.

Originally used as the college's men's gymnasium, Rex Gym fell into disuse in the mid-'60s, following construction of Plachy Hall. Rex was renovated in 1995 to serve as the Rex Activity Center and will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2009.

Rex Gym was named for local dentist, Dr. Clifford P. Rex, a member of the Board of Trustees of State Normal Schools from 1925-1949. Rex played a significant role in the history of Adams State College and the valley. He was among many Alamosa citizens who contributed a total of $27,000 to build Richardson Hall when the appropriations bill was denied by Governor Morley. Rex Gym was pivotal in development of the college's standing in the athletic divisions of the state and region. It regularly hosted special events for the community, as well.

Rex Activity Center continues to nurture the physical health of Adams State students and community members. It is available at no charge to members of Adams State's Associated Students & Faculty; alumni and community members may purchase daily passes or monthly memberships. Rex offers a basketball/volleyball court, two racquetball/volleyball courts, an aerobic/dance studio, free weight and cardiovascular areas, and an 1,800 square-foot climbing wall. It also offers wellness workshops and such special events as the Homecoming 5K Run and climbing competitions.

Note: Historical information courtesy of Kat Olance, Luther Bean Museum, Adams State College.

By Julie Waechter