Volunteers are saving the Carterville Gym

70th anniversary will be celebrated in 2024

Volunteers are signed up Saturday to continue restoring the historic Carterville Gym and Community Center. They’ll be repairing windows, ceilings and lighting and painting.

Work began to remodel the lobby, hallway and community room in November in preparation for Cookies with Santa, one of the many festivals hosted by the Carterville Park Committee.

With high tech upgrades like WIFI locks and thermostats, access and utilities can be controlled remotely from City Hall. Zone heating and cooling has also been employed to reduce utility costs. Volunteers have sourced material donations from vendors such as Wooster Brush, Benjamin Moore, Masterchem (maker of Kilz) and a major donor, Henkle’s Ace Hardware. 

The repairs have been at no cost to taxpayers.

Organizer and councilperson Cris Henkle says the gym holds sentimental value to many local residents. “When I mention the Carterville gym, everyone has a story. I was in a restaurant today and an 80-year old woman stopped me to tell me about her days as a cheerleader in the Carterville Gym.”

Built in 1954 for Carterville High School, the building has been home to sporting events, fundraisers and even concerts from the likes of Tex Ritter. Few modifications have been made to the building since its construction. Wood bleacher seating for 500 surrounds the original maple basketball court. A large balcony used during high school physicial education class housed a trampoline and the still visible shuffleboard court.

“It was the heart of the community in 1954, and it still functions as that today,” says Henkle. “Volunteers with the Carterville Park Committee have hosted hundreds if not thousands of local residents with events in just the last six months. It was built well, it just needs a little love and attention to bring it back to its glory days.”

The Community Center, with its large kitchen and concessions serving windows is available for rent. The community room can seat approximately 30 people and is perfect for baby showers and birthday parties. The gym has 5,500 square feet of affordable floor space for art shows, flea markets and banquets, festivals, church activities and sporting events. 

The gym/community center is at 209 E. Hall St., For information and to rent the facility, contact Carterville City Hall at (417) 673-1341 or go to the city website.

Jan. 10, 1954, Joplin Globe