University of Texas Gregory Gym

One of the best-known buildings on The University of Texas at Austin campus, Gregory Gym, was built in 1930, making it almost 100 years old today. Its unique appearance is partially the result of the style and color of its brick, made by a young company located 200 miles north of Austin, near Fort Worth, called Acme Brick. 
The story of Gregory Gym became part of the folklore of the Texas Longhorns.
Brick construction can hold its integrity and beauty for centuries. For more information on Acme Brick, reach out to an expert.

The Original 40 Acres

As several University of Texas websites note, “Although much more expansive today (the main UT campus is 431 acres and there are thousands more beyond that), the original tract of land set aside by the state of Texas for the university was 40 acres. Those 40 acres formed a square with ‘College Hill’ at its center.

Old photo of University of Texas Gregory Gym

“In September 1883, the University of Texas was officially opened in a ceremony inside an incomplete building on a grassy hill where the Tower now stands. The following January, students reported to the campus and its one building, a ghost of history now known as ‘Old Main.’ Today, that square is defined by 21st Street, Guadalupe Street, 24th Street, and Speedway, and The Tower sits at the top of College Hill. A 40-acre square is a quarter of a mile along each side, so if you walk the perimeter of the original campus, you will have walked a mile. 
“The term ‘Forty Acres’ has since become commonplace among Longhorns everywhere and serves as an affectionate nickname for the Austin campus.”

A Former UT Student Gives Back

The namesake of Gregory Gym was one of the first 13 graduates of the University of Texas, Thomas Watt Gregory. Having received his LLB in 1885, he was admitted to the Texas State Bar immediately after graduation and began solo practice.
According to this UT source, “At a time when university libraries were sparse, Gregory made his private collection open to UT students. Throughout his early law career, he remained active with his alma mater, forming the Alumni Association in 1885, becoming one of the original purchasers of Clark Field (baseball), and organizing the Texas Gamma Eta Chapter of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.”
Gregory went on to an illustrious law career, which included four and a half years as U.S. Attorney General under President Woodrow Wilson.
“When Gregory was elected president of the Ex-Students' Association in 1926, he began, in earnest, a drive to build a university gym. His fund-raising efforts, supplemented by university funding, made possible what we now know as Gregory Gym, Anna Hiss Gym, and the Union Building.  

“Gregory Gymnasium, built in 1930 at an approximate cost of $500,000, was, at its onset, one of the pioneering projects for the advancement of the University of Texas campus. The proposal for a new modern gymnasium was made in 1907 by Gregory.  

Building Gregory Gym with Brick

In the past hundred or so years, many things have changed in the construction of large, public projects like these UT gyms and the Union building. However, one factor remains constant: The brick that became walls is timeless.
According to Britt Stokes of Acme Brick, “Even in the coldest, darkest days of the ‘Great Depression,’ our kilns remained hot and brick was produced by our hard-working teams. Despite the hardships of these economic times, ‘Texas Exes’ like Thomas Gregory raised more than $600,000 ($8.7 million in 2022 dollars) to build these iconic structures. This was no small feat.
“As with other buildings on campuses around the country, the University of Texas wanted to establish a unique ‘look’ for their new buildings, and the UT Regents chose a brick color palette that was used for building on campus. Over the next century. It became known as the ‘UT Blend.’”
According to UT sources, “Construction began on the auditorium-gymnasium on May 10, 1929. The new auditorium-gymnasium was completed and formally dedicated one year later, on April 12, 1930, at the first annual Longhorn Round-Up. The recommendation that the new building be named for Thomas Watt Gregory was approved on May 30, 1930.”

Gregory Gym Now

University of Texas Gregory Gym closeup

As the UT campus continued to expand over the years, Gregory Gym remained in the heart of these 40 acres, facing the main street that runs through Longhorn Nation—Speedway. The gym has served many functions in its long history, from athletic and entertainment events to the annual fall (pre-computerized) registration and class assignment ordeal suffered by students for several decades.
Stokes noted, “The longevity of this gym is a testament to how a brick building can gracefully accommodate the changing styles and functions of a public building,” he said.
According to UT websites, “For 46 years, Gregory Gymnasium served as the home for the UT basketball and swimming teams until the Erwin Center and the Jamail Texas Swimming Center were built. Until 1977, it also hosted the University Interscholastic League state basketball championships. University registration took place in Gregory Gym until Bellmont Hall was completed in 1972, as well as many other large events such as the Longhorn Round-Up, dances, speeches, and performing arts presentations.
“In the spring of 1962, the addition of the Gregory Annex became the first renovation. The three-floor addition connected to the south side of the building and extended down to 21st Street. Among the unique details of the addition were electric clocks for the new basketball courts, a large gymnastics facility, and an observation walkway above the gym. Perhaps the most unique way the addition was designed was its capacity to enable women to use the gym to watch competitions—an activity they had never been able to do before.
“In December of 1995, Gregory Gymnasium was closed to begin a $26.8 million renovation. Completed after 22 months of construction, the facility reopened on November 12, 1997. 
“The Gregory Gym renovation project was completed with the creation of the Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex, featuring a complete renovation of the then 75-year-old Natatorium and the addition of a new two-acre outdoor complex consisting of an outdoor lap pool, two outdoor leisure pools, a spa, reception garden, deck for lounging, wireless Internet, and lush landscaping.” 
In recent years, Gregory Gym has been the home of the perennially highly ranked U.T. Women’s volleyball team.

Hook ‘Em Horns

As has been noted in previous posts, over more than 130 years, Acme Brick has been an integral part of some of the most iconic structures in the Southern United States by supplying a building material that will last centuries.

University of Texas football field


As with these other buildings, the brick surrounding Gregory Gym has stood the test of time. It has also been held witness as millions of students raised their right arm and awkwardly arranged the fingers of their right hand in replica of the horns of their beloved mascot, Bevo, to salute the school they love. Hook ‘em Horns.

Acme Brick has been a part of some of the most iconic public and private buildings in the United States. If you are planning a home, office, or school gymnasium like Gregory Gym, let us show you what history can look like.