The original gymnasium was built in 1877. It was 40 x 70 feet with a hardwood exercise floor suitable for skating and bowling. It was equipped with dumbbells, rings and other “needful appliances.” Gymnastics Training 1890. The appliances used in the Gymnasium are of the A. J. Teach & Co.’s make, and a large number of pieces of apparatus of the “Standard” Sargent pattern made by the Narragansett Machine Co. All machines have graduated weights to suit the strength of the individual and are smooth and noiseless in running, being supplied with buffer, etc. The instruments used in physical examination are the latest improved, manufactured by Upham of Boston and are graded on the French scale to secure the greatest accuracy in taking the measurements. —Admissions piece ca. 1890. The first Director of Physical Education, Sarah B. Avery, used the Sargent pattern of instruction and Swedish apparatus with graduated weights to suit the strength of the individual. Instruction also included aesthetic dance movement. The aim of the program was to “develop the respiratory and circulatory systems of the body, promote the healthful activity of every organ and bring about symmetry of form and ease of movement.” “Believing that all education is inspired by religion and morality, Wilson College inculcates the doctrines of the Higher Wisdom, that along with the trained mental intelligence and the well-developed physical strength, there may be that consecrated womanhood in her students which shall be a power for good in the world.”—From The Olio, the first college yearbook published in 1895. The “new” gymnasium was completed in 1900.
Letter to Mrs. Hammer from her daughter, Olive Hammer a freshman. Sept. 25, 1933
“The entire college went on a picnic to Mont Alto. The thermometer registered about 95 and besides all the Freshman had to wear extra-heavy weight black cotton stockings pulled all the way up (no rolls) and great placards bearing their names. I looked like this. Of course I was just lovely and cool in this regalia and I do look so cute in white dresses and black stockings, “a la Reform School.” Old Billy Whiskers (Dr. Warfield) and the whole gang was there and it is a beautiful place.”
In 1912 students began to raise funds for a swimming pool which was completed in 1917. Students were then required to pass a basic swimming test before graduating.
“Like all healthy girls, the students are interested in athletics and outdoor sports. The large grounds afford ample space for tennis and hockey, and the Conococheague invites to canoeing. The gymnasium has a splendid swimming pool, abundant room for basketball, and equipment for systematic physical training.”—Wilson College catalog ca. 1920
“Physical examinations are given to Freshmen and Seniors. Corrective work is prescribed wherever necessary.”—Wilson College Bulletin. April 1942
Gannett Memorial Field House was constructed in 1966 for the Penn Hall Preparatory School adjacent to the Wilson Campus. It was purchased by Wilson in 1977.
The Penn Hall Equestrian Center includes Hawthorne Arena—an indoor arena equipped with observation bleachers, shadowless lighting and rubber-sand-sawdust footing; Cook Arena—a slightly smaller indoor arena with shadowless lighting and rubber-sand-sawdust footing; Kitts Arena—an outdoor riding arena with racetrack sand footing.
In 2000, Kris Rodger Sammons and William Sammons donated funds to purchase land to create athletic fields known as Kris’s Meadow. The Rhonda Brake Shriner Soccer field was constructed and dedicated in 2002, and the softball field was constructed in 2003.