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Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI, USA 48197
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Historic Tour > Virtual Tour > Bowen Field House

Bowen Field House

Historical Name(s): Wilbur P. Bowen Field House

Bowen Field House

Bowen Field House

Date constructed: Dedicated December 3, 1955

Architect: Giffels & Vallet of Detroit

Style of Architecture: International

Original Use: Housed Athletics department and had a seating capacity of 5,400.

Dates of renovation: 1976: first remodeling. 1982: received a 9,400 square foot addition, seating capacity expanded to 4,800. In 1986, a two-story addition was built on the southwest corner.

Current Use: Human Resources Offices & indoor exercise facility

History: Bowen was the second field house built on Eastern’s campus. It was

Bowen Field House

Bowen Field House - A view from behind the building
constructed concurrently with Goddard and Jones Residence Halls and Pine Grove Apartments during a period of great growth for the university. Briggs Field House was simply too small. Bowen Field House was built as the first stage of a full-scale physical education facility. Later additions would include a gymnasium, swimming pool, additional locker rooms and classrooms (See Warner Gymnasium and Olds/Rob Student Recreation Center).

Bowen was named for the late Wilbur Pardon Bowen, a mathematics instructor and first head of the Department of Physical Education, 1894-1928. It was he who first established a teacher-training course in physical education. The 88,000 square foot building cost $1.25 million to construct. When it was built, it was one of the largest in the country including not only basketball, track, and baseball practice areas, but also facilities for outdoor activities like tennis and badminton. It also had indoor classrooms. There was permanent seating for 1,200 viewers and theoretically, additional seating capacity for 6,000. The building also included an 8-laps-to-the-mile track, a hard surfaced infield, a lounge, and a physical therapy room.

Bowen Field House saw 351 wins in its 43 years as the home of Eastern’s basketball team. Cheering and applause echoed from the steal beams of the building leading a radio announcer on WEMU to refer to the building as “The Old Barn” and the name stuck. Originally basketball court was located in front of the balcony and the baskets were at east and west ends of court. The floor later switched to north/south direction in 1960.

Bowen has undergone several renovations. In 1976 it had its first face-lift, intended to increase attendance at major events. In 1982 it received a 9,400 square foot addition, new lighting, a new track surface, and improved seating, which expanded seating permanent capacity to 4,800. In 1986 it was further remodeled and made handicapped accessible, offices were updated, a two-story addition was built on the southwest corner, and the heating and air conditioning were improved updated.

In the fall of 1998, the newly constructed Convocation Center took its place as the home of EMU’s basketball team. Today Bowen houses the Human Resources Offices and is still used as an exercise facility by students and faculty.

Location - Bowen Field House


Location of Bowen Field House (Click on the image for a bigger view)