See the C-NET video presentation on the History of Memorial Field by Dr. Ronald Smith August 25. 2011.
On October 26, 1914 the Board accepted an offer from the site owner of the area now known as Memorial Field; it was named in honor of the WWII veterans from the State College Area. The area was initially known as “The Hollow” because it was a sink hole south of the Fraser Street building between Foster and Nittany Avenues that was used as a sanitation dump.
Property owner John Noll proposed the location to the Board for $3,000, plus an additional $15 for associated costs. The deal was accepted at the October 26, 1914 meeting with the final purchase totaling $3,042.
The next month the board began protesting its continued use as a dump, unsuccessfully for some time. Requests to close Foster Avenue between Fraser Street and the alley behind the school building weren’t honored until the early 1930s.
A detailed plan to adapt the sink hole as a “Hollow” for school activity—suggested by Arthur W. Cowell of Penn State’s landscape architecture department—received a favorable hearing to the next Spring. In May 1916 the Board, cooperating with the PTA playground committee, approved construction of two tennis courts on the Nittany Avenue side of the new high school, naming James S. Dale to supervise this work along with leveling ground in the Hollow for baseball.
Bids were requested in June to complete the “Ball grounds as laid out, including walling and concreting.” At an approximate cost of $1,000, this was the first effort to make the Hollow “one of the State’s most modern playgrounds,” as Mr. Briner described it in his 1915-16 annual report. Despite intermittent agitation, the unavailability of funds kept improvements minor for some time.
It wasn’t until 1933, that actual plans for re-creating the Hollow were developed due to other pressing matters of higher priority. The High School Activites Association gave the Board a $200 check to help pay the bill of H.O. Smith for hauling and erecting wooden bleachers (for the west side) which he had salvaged from New Beaver Field. Thus the Hollow acquired its first permanent seating.
The photo of the workers pictured above is of WPA laborers who worked for 15 cents an hour in mid-Depression---and were happy to be working at all. Mrs. Charles J. Graham, who gave this photograph to The Tavern, identified her husband, a foreman as the man with his foot on the wheelbarrow. Trucks from Swartz Haulting and O.W. Houts distributed the last of the topsoil to complete the athletic field in The Hollow. Stone walls around the stadium represent less than 20 per cent of the rock removed from the town sinkhole to finish the project.
Memorial Field Dedication Program October 11, 1946
Last Modified on April 25, 2017