Henry Fuller, the Fuller Pool in 1923, and swimmers from the 1970s

From left, Henry J. Fuller, son of WPI's former president Homer Fuller; the Fuller Memorial Pool in 1926; and students enjoying a swim in 1976.

The Archivist: A Splashy Addition to Campus

On Alumni Day in June 1926, Henry J. Fuller, Class of 1895, nervously stepped up onto the spring-mounted plank in the basement of Alumni Gymnasium at the invitation of President Ralph Earle. He steadied himself as he prepared to address the gathered crowd, balancing above the sparkling waters of Fuller Memorial Pool, the Institute’s newest facility.

Fuller, who provided a gift of $10,000 for the pool’s construction, thought of his father, Homer T. Fuller, WPI’s second president, for whom the facility was being dedicated that day. President Fuller oversaw a rapid expansion of campus, adding Salisbury and Alden Research Laboratories and implementing a four-year curriculum of study. This focus on academics, to the regret of father and son, meant that construction of recreation and leisure facilities were set aside for new laboratories and equipment.

When Alumni Gymnasium was built in 1915, space had been reserved for a pool, and its delayed construction led to jokes among the students about returning as grandfathers for its dedication. But owing to the generosity of those same students and alumni, the campus community could finally enjoy swimming and diving indoors on campus.

The pool remained a popular feature on campus (until Alumni Gymnasium was closed in 2012), hosting athletic competitions and leisure days alike. Today, the WPI community can enjoy modern swimming and diving facilities in the Sports and Recreation Center, which also hosts training facilities for the crew teams. To learn more about the history of campus facilities, visit WPI Archives & Special Collections.

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