Amid the ceremonies and playing of “Pomp and Circumstance” for graduating students this week at the University of Tennessee, some “sounds of demolition” could be heard on the campus for buildings moving on as well.
Primarily, giant shovels could be spotted Thursday tearing down the old Stokely Athletics Center off Volunteer Boulevard and the former Sophronia Strong Hall beside Cumberland Avenue on the Knoxville campus.
Stokely, where the UT basketball teams played until 1987, is being razed to make way for a dorm, parking garage and addition to the football practice fields.
It had been built in 1958 as the UT Armory-Fieldhouse and was expanded and renamed in 1966. The men’s basketball teams – primarily those under Ray Mears and Don DeVoe -- played there, and Pat Summitt’s women’s teams began playing there later in her tenure.
The former Gibbs Hall athletic dorm that sat on the east side of Stokely since the early 1960s has already been torn down and is now a pile of rubble.
Strong Hall, which dated to 1925, was one of the first women’s dorm and housed thousands of coeds – and reportedly one or two ghosts — over the years. A few sections of the old structure are being saved or reused as the site, which will retain the Strong name, is turned into a science facility.
Numerous Chattanooga residents have frequented both buildings as students over the years.