August 15, 2008

The Kelly-Williams Gym

You'll have to excuse the nostalgia nerd coming out right now. I've been gathering quite a few pics of the different school buildings in which we've been educated over the years. I'll be posting them a few at a time over the next week or so.
If you attended the Sheridan Middle School campus any length of time, then you know the Kelly-Williams Gym. Most of us had P.E. in the gym and if you played basketball then you've spent a considerable amount of time on the court. It would be impossible to count the number of laps that were run around that wooden catwalk in front of those green metal lockers (Say, did Tim McCool really jump off the catwalk?). This place was a classic, unappreciated edifice filled with nostalgia. Remember seeing the movie, Hoosiers? Well, that's the Kelly-Williams Gym - exactly! Many of our parents sat in the same bleachers watching their Jackets play, they danced on the same hardwoods & stuffed their sweaty gym clothes in the same lockers. I'm just fascinated by this.
Well, they tore it down. To the ground. Demolished. It's gone. I'm just disgusted by this. They did the same thing to McKenzie Hall. [SIGH]
Anyway, I digress. Below is the article announcing the final dance in the Kelly-Williams Gym on June 3rd, 1995 and the demolition to follow. You can click to enlarge the newprint, but I've bulleted a few interesting facts from the article, dated Wednesday, May 31st, 1995.

  • The gym was originally dedicated on Saturday, January 29, 1949.
  • The gym cost the school district at total of $65,000 to complete.
  • Frank Cullins was the high school player to sink the very first basket in the gym during a game between Sheridan and Prattsville in 1949. He was on hand June 3rd, 1995 to sink the very last shot.
  • "Long-time Arkansas Gazette sports columnist Orval Henry, called the Kelly-Williams Gym 'one of the five best gymnasiums in the state,' including colleges and universities."

The Kelly-Williams Gym, circa mid 1960's

Above are two shots of basketball games in the mid-60's. You'll see in the background of the photos on the right side, the door that we all used. You would have to descend down a short set of wooden stairs to exit the gym, bringing you out on the sidewalk below, facing the middle school building.


  1. Hey Aaron, here's a bit of my family history with Kelly-Williams Gym. (And personally I do remember having P.E.--my most dreaded class--in that building. I remember thinking it would fall in on us at any moment!) I was always told that the building was partly named after Dr. O.R. Kelly who was married to my papaw's 1st cousin Ellen Forrester Kelly. Though I never knew Dr. Kelly, I've seen some of his medical items in the Grant Co. museum. I have fond memories of visiting Cousin Ellen's house on Oak St. near the high school. Before I started kindergarten, my mom and I would pile in the car and head down to Sheridan from East End to see my brother and sister in the homecoming parades which always passed by Cousin Ellen's house. I don't know the people who live there now, but I noticed that they have a "National Register" marker on the house. I used to love playing with all the cool antique toys she had tucked away there. Guess I was always meant to be a history nerd. Melissa Nesbitt

  2. Thanks Melissa, that's interesting. My papaw helped build one of the buildings on that campus... either the gym or the old agri building. Seems that he lost his watch sometime during the construction and believes it's somewhere in the foundation of the building.
    Good memories!

  3. Aaron,
    I too hated to see the gym and auditorium come down. I don't have a lot of great memories of playing sports in there, but I remember the back hallways that we'd take to get to art class. Remember that? I loved the stairs and the turns in the hallways (I don't think the hallways were straight, where they?) I would sometimes get lost while I was exploring back there. But that's what I loved about those buildings. And of course the good times we had in the auditorium. Remember seeing the high school play Holly Matchet while we were in middle school? They took the name of the musical group Molly Hatchet and transposed the first letters. I don't remember what grade we were in but I remember the high school kids making a big deal over that play. And did we watch "Where the Red Fern Grows" in there? I remember Mrs. Averitt read that book to us in our 5th grade reading class. Seems like we had to watch the movie in the auditorium too. That class was where I met Kristy Evans and we became friends. Kristy was always applying lip gloss! Good times...
    Kathy Flynt James