Stitzer YMCA Center Calls Renovated Judd Home
Originally built in 1894 and expanded in 1910, the red-brick Victorian structure underwent an $8 million renovation during the past year to serve new purposes critical to the College’s mission and the students we serve, while preserving the building’s historic character and many architectural details. Prominent throughout the 116-year-old building are Springfield College’s current and longstanding national and international ties to the YMCA. Judd Gymnasia houses the College’s new Stitzer YMCA Center, which includes the College’s Office of YMCA Relations, YMCA Hall of Fame, offices of the Association of YMCA Professionals, YMCA Club room, and YMCA multipurpose room.
Given the facility’s age and increasing lack of functionality, one course of action could have been to tear it down and build a new structure. Destroying such an important piece of the College’s history, however, was not a welcome prospect. Fortunately, support from alumni and YMCAs during Leadership for the 21st Century: The Campaign for Springfield College enabled the College to take a renewed look at Judd. In particular, leadership gifts from Todd Stitzer H’07, and Mark Stitzer, and their wives Marenda ’78 and Lucy, together with additional support from the YMCA of the USA and a number of individual YMCAs across the country, helped lead to the decision to renovate Judd Gymnasia and give the facility new purpose.
The Stitzer commitment was influenced by the work of Todd and Mark’s late father, Howard F. Stitzer, a lifetime YCMA professional, and their brother, Tim, presently the chief operating officer of the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati. The Stitzer family also had a keen interest in the preservation of the College’s most historic building.
The Stitzer YMCA Center is the most visible component of the Judd renovation. The Stitzer Center has been intentionally designed to celebrate and honor YMCA leaders of the past, recognize and support YMCA leaders of the present, and prepare YMCA leaders of the future. It includes the College’s Office of YMCA relations, the YMCA Club Room and additional meeting rooms, a YMCA multipurpose room, and the YMCA Hall of Fame. The YMCA Hall of Fame has been located in Marsh Memorial at Springfield College since its inception in 1985. The move to Judd Gymnasia and the Stitzer YMCA Center allows its presence to expand dramatically. The YMCA multipurpose room will allow the College to serve as a host to YMCA-related meetings and groups. In addition, the national office of the Association of YMCA Professionals (AYP) recently decided to relocate its headquarters from Westerly, R.I., to the Stitzer YMCA Center, which brings the national professional society for YMCA staff to Springfield College. It is clearly an assembling of powerful YMCA forces in support of the YMCA movement.
Other components of Judd Gymnasia include a new Springfield College museum, the College’s Archives and Special Collections, and a large multipurpose room for up to 450 people. This multipurpose room will serve as an extension to the new campus union for student activities. The museum will showcase Springfield College history, memorabilia, and art touching on areas such as alumni accomplishments, international impact, Olympic involvement, and YMCA connections. In addition, and seen by many as most fitting, the College’s Office of Alumni Relations will also move to Judd Gymnasia. When the decision to locate alumni relations in Judd was announced to alumni at the most recent reunion in June 2010, the response was typically: “How perfect, I took dance in there,” or “I swam in McCurdy Pool on a regular basis.”Fond memories, indeed, for many Springfield College alumni.
The renovations and new Stitzer YMCA Center will allow memories to continue to be made in Judd Gymnasia, extending the Humanics mission—education of the whole student, in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to humanity— to the next generation and beyond.
About Judd Gymnasia
The 116-year-old Judd Gymnasia is the oldest building on the Springfield College campus. The historic structure has a red brick victorian exterior. To this day, it displays the College’s early name, YMCA Training School, which is embedded in the masonry.
Originally built in 1894, the building was designed by B.H. Seabury, with great input from Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick, physical department director and “father of physical education in the United States.” Gulick oversaw the inclusion of many features he had studied in order to make the facility one of most complete gymnasiums in the United States. (Gulick also created the College’s symbolic equilateral triangle.)
Later, this part of the building became known as “East Gymnasium” when a second gymnasium—“West Gymnasium”—was added in 1910. Edward Lippincott Tilton, an American architect who specialized in the design of libraries in the United States, Canada, and at educational institutions, designed West Gymnasium—and also Marsh Memorial when it served as a library for the campus. Later, the McCurdy Pool was added—a “modern marvel” at the time with its continuous filtration system that eliminated the need to constantly replace water.
In 1953, the building was named in honor of Leslie Judd, the famed Springfield College gymnastics coach and teacher. Over the years, Judd Gymnasia has housed academic and recreational programs and offices of coaches and faculty members.
Springfield College Dedicates Stitzer YMCA Center in renovated Judd Gymnasia
Springfield College dedicated the new Stitzer YMCA Center before an audience of YMCA leaders from around the world, members of the Stitzer family, the campus community, and the public on Thursday, May 19, 2011, in its newly renovated Judd Gymnasia. Read the full story.