Athletic Center




Luther College

Building Name

Athletic Center

Year Built


Architectural Style

Midcentury Modern Contemporary

An eerie, color-enhanced photo of the Athletic Center–NOT indicating that the building is burning.

After the burning of Preus Gymnasium in 1961, the college commissioned a comprehensive college plan that would have placed a new gymnasium between Valders Hall of Science and the Decorah Municipal Pool. David T. Nelson, among others, strongly resisted this plan to force all of the required buildings into the confined space of the upper campus. After Nelson threatened to step away from being the college’s acting president if the campus were not expanded into the lower floodplain area, the Regents went against their earlier plan. This deeply upset the Physical Education department, who felt that they were being relegated to the fringes of the campus, away from its traditional central heart.

The new field house was completed in 1963 in a Midcentury Modern Streamline style. Because of the building’s location in the floodplain, the area had to be filled with hundreds of tons of rock and soil before construction could begin. The insurance payment for Preus Gymnasium covered almost the complete cost of the new field house. The major expansions and renovations of 1991 and 2014 have mostly obscured Altfillisch’s original design, although some elements are still visible.

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