A couple of landmarks important in University of Tennessee sports history are starting to come down in Knoxville.
Demolition workers as of Wednesday had knocked down about a third of Gibbs Hall – the former athletic dorm – and had also begun some slight demolition on the walls of Stokely Athletics Center.
The work is supposed to be completed in several weeks, and a parking garage, a coed dorm, and an extension of the Haslam football practice fields will be constructed on the site.
Gibbs Hall opened about 1963 and was later named for Bill Gibbs, a Tennessee freshman basketball coach who died in a plane crash in Florida in early 1964. It originally had no balconies, and its dining hall was in the basement.
A later remodeling had the dorm room doors opening to the outside, and the dining room was moved to the first floor level.
For a number of years, Gibbs was a dorm for male athletes only until some NCAA rules changes did away with exclusive athletic dorms.
Stokely opened in 1958 as the smaller Armory-Fieldhouse to house a gym and the ROTC department, but was expanded and renamed in 1966 following a gift from benefactor William B. Stokely of the Stokely-Van Camp canning family.
Vol fans were treated to some great basketball there during the coaching tenures of men’s coaches Ray Mears and Don DeVoe and women’s coach Pat Summitt.
It also housed what was considered one of the nicer indoor track facilities for a college.
Its luster began to decline after Thompson-Boling Arena opened in 1987.
Elvis Presley and a host of musicians also played Stokely.