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The Women’s Gym (now named Ustler Hall) was the first permanent structure at the University of Florida intended for campus-wide use. “The New Gym,” as it was called, opened in 1919 after Gainesville citizens donated funds to overcome a budgetary shortfall. The excitement generated by the community effort led then UF President A.A. Murphree and the mayor of Gainesville to invite the New York Giants baseball team to use the new gym for spring training and the team accepted. The auditorium and gym became a focal point of campus activity.
The building was designated the Women’s Gymnasium in 1948 when UF officially became coeducational. The university received state funds to demolish the Women’s Gym, but an interest in preserving original campus structures prevailed. In 1988, the building was granted protection under the National Register of Historic Places.
As a result of a generous gift from UF alumna Kathryn Chicone Ustler in May 2000 and matching funds from the state of Florida, the restoration project was able to begin. The University was authorized to rename the building Kathryn Chicone Ustler Hall; making it the first UF academic building named solely after a woman.
The 14,700 square-foot, three-level Ustler Hall houses classrooms, seminar rooms and faculty and administrative offices for the Women’s Studies program. This is the only freestanding campus building devoted solely to Women’s Studies in the U.S.