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Buildings History

Weatherspoon Gymnasium

Weatherspoon Gymnasium contains Meredith College’s gymnasium, fitness center, dance studio and other sports facilities and offices, functioning as a learning center for dance and fitness-related classes, practice area for sport teams, as well as an exercise center for students, faculty and staff.  Weatherspoon Gymnasium is located at the rear of the college campus, behind Martin Hall and immediately next to the Ellen Brewer House.


Originally called the Weatherspoon Physical Education and Recreation Building, Weatherspoon Gymnasium was named for brothers Walter Herbert Weatherspoon and James Raymond Weatherspoon. The late James Weatherspoon was a founder of Durham Life Insurance Company and was a deacon at Raleigh’s First Baptist Church. Walter Weatherspoon had worked as general counsel for Carolina Power and Light, and was a life member of the Board of Deacons for Raleigh’s First Baptist Church. He served on the college's Board of Trustees for forty years and was named the Board’s first honorary life member. The extended Weatherspoon family also included multiple alumnae of Meredith College. The family donated approximately half of the funds necessary to build the facility.

Dedicated in 1970, the gymnasium was the fourth of five planned new buildings constructed as part of the design for campus-wide improvement, the Meredith College Advancement Plan. The new gymnasium replaced the 1928 “temporary” facility and increased the capacity and variety of athletic and recreational activities on campus with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, regulation basketball court, and dance studio.

In 1993-94, Weatherspoon Gymnasium benefitted from the Capital Fundraising Campaign established as part of the 1991 Centennial celebrations to meet special building needs on campus. Weatherspoon’s 5000 square foot addition included an expanded dance studio and a weight/fitness center with new equipment.

The most recent renovations to Weatherspoon began in early 2016, funded in part by The Parents Fund and the Oscar A. Keller, Jr. family. Furthermore, a $1 million dollar gift by Trustee Ann Lowery (Class of 1974) resulted in the naming of the fitness center for her parents, Herman and Ruth Lowery. The facility reopened in the fall of 2017, increasing the size of the fitness center by 5,400 square feet, allowing for more equipment, classes and operating hours.



1968 architectural plans for the new gymnasium were designed by F. Carter Williams, an architect from Raleigh.

1968 diagram of the new facility, plans designed by F. Carter Williams, Architect (Raleigh, N.C.)

Weatherspoon under Construction.

Weatherspoon under construction

Newly completed Weatherspoon Physical Education and Recreation Building, 1970

Newly completed Weatherspoon Physical Education and Recreation Building, 1970

Portrait of Walter Herbert Weatherspoon, trustee of Meredith college and donor

Walter Herbert Weatherspoon (1884-1972)

Walter Weatherspoon served on the college's Board of Trustees for forty years and was named the Board’s first honorary life member. 

Portrait of James Raymond Weatherspoon, namesake of Weatherspoon Gynmansium

James Raymond Weatherspoon (1881-1950)

James R. Weatherspoon was a founder of Durham Life Insurance Company, a deacon at Raleigh’s First Baptist Church and the father and grandfather of several alumnae of Meredith College..

Members of the Weatherspoon family at the groundbreaking ceremonies.

Members of the Weatherspoon family at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new building, May 3, 1968.


Seated left to right: W. Herbert Weatherspoon, Mabel Stuart Weatherspoon (widow of James R. Weatherspoon.)

Standing left to right: Stuart Weatherspoon Upchurch (Class of 1935), Margaret Weatherspoon Parker (Class of 1938) and Laura Weatherspoon Harrill (Class of 1927) - daughters of Mr. & Mrs. James Weatherspoon.

Photo of President Bruce Heilman in the swimming pool after being thrown in by students as a prank.

President Bruce Heilman in the pool.

Shortly after the completion of the Weatherspoon pool, President Bruce Heilman was tossed in the water by some of the students as a sort of christening ceremony.

Olympic-sized swimming pool in Weatherspoon, 1971

Weatherspoon now boasted an Olympic-sized swimming pool (1971)

Meredith College student using equipment in the fitness center, 1995.

A student using the newly opened fitness center

As a reflection of the trend toward a healthy lifestyle, a fitness center for campus use was opened in January 1995. Equipment for the center emphasized strength training to help in maintaining bone density, the stabilization of joints and in creating muscle mass. 

Photo of the Aqua Angels synchronized swimming club practicing in the pool.

Members of the Aqua Angels

The Aqua Angels, Meredith College's synchronized swimming team, practiced and performed in the pool from 1971 to 2011.


Gymnastics class

Gymnastics class.

Image of Meredith College's basketball team attempts a shot under the basket

Weatherspoon is home to the Meredith College's basketball team.

Basketball has been a part of Meredith College from the beginning when classes would compete against one another.

Photo of an instructor with her dance students in the studio.

Class in dance studio

The new dance studio opened in 1995, shortly after the gymnasium dedication. 

Photo of Meredith College volleyball player spiking the ball over the net,

Meredith College volleyball team in action

Weatherspoon Gymnasium, Spring 2017

Weatherspoon Gymnasium, 2017

Removing the swimming pool for a fitness center. Renovations, 2017

Renovations, 2017

By removing the swimming pool, Weatherspoon Gym added 5400 square feet to the Fitness Center, which, according to press releases, allows for more "fitness opportunities, personalized training, new equipment, more...staff, and longer operating hours." The center now is furnished with 11 treadmills, 8 bikes, 8 elliptical cross-trainers, 4 ascent trainers, 2 rowing machines and 6 power-lifting racks as well as free weights, resistance machines, kettlebells, bands, physio balls, and medicine balls.  In addition to enhancing the every day students' opportunities, the expansion will  will also student athletes with better benefit from team training and conditioning. The new fitness center was named for trustee Ann Lowry's (Class of 74) parents, Herman and Ruth Lowry.