02 September 2021

Adaptive Reuse Planned for the University of Utah's Historic Fieldhouse

Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse at the
University of Utah, Sept 2021

A good news post! 

Recently the University of Utah announced that it will be turning the historic Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse into a 375-seat state-of-the-art theatre.

A seismic renovation has recently been completed and some new paint has been applied to the rooftop letters. A gift from the Meldrum Foundation will transform the space so it can be utilized by the Department of Theatre and Pioneer Theatre Company.

The fieldhouse was designed by prominent local architecture firm Ashton and Evans and built in 1939 by contractors George A. Whitmeyer & Sons. It was partially paid by a grant from the Public Works Administration.

When it opened it was known as the Ute Fieldhouse and was the largest building on campus with a seating capacity of 4,000. Basketball games and physical fitness exercises were the principle uses of the building. It was renamed in honor of Einar Nielsen in 1954 in recognition of his 40 years of service as the U’s athletic trainer.

During WWII, the fieldhouse was converted for use as a massive dormitory for military personnel who were receiving medical training at the University of Utah. The bleachers, basketball standards, and basketball floor were removed and stored in the balcony and new oak tongue and groove flooring was installed. The bathrooms were expanded and a post office, officers’ quarters, barber shop, and a lounge were installed in the balcony.

After WWII the fieldhouse was the home venue of Ute basketball.

Sources: UofU Finer Points Blog Aug 18 2021; UofU Historic Buildings Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse; SL Trib 1954-06-27

Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse at the
University of Utah, Sept 2021

Architectural plan composite for the fieldhouse,
top from SL Trib 1938-07-07;
bottom from SL Trib 1938-07-10.

University of Utah Commencement ceremony
inside the fieldhouse, early 1950s
 From Marriott Library.

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