The opening of the Alumnae Gymnasium, designed by William M. Tubby, was celebrated with a Philaletheis hall play—that is, a play open only to the college community—W. S. Gilbert’s Engaged. Attendees were presented with small souvenir photographs of the new building.

Built with funds collected from the alumnae and students under the leadership of Professor of Mathematics Achsah M. Ely '68, the building and its equipment cost $25,000.  Equipped with parallel bars, rowing machines and other apparatus, the gymnasium contained 87 dressing rooms and 20 showers. Given by trustee Frederick Ferris Thompson, the swimming tank, 29 feet wide and 8 feet deep and lined with marble, held 47,000 gallons of water, which was pumped from an artesian well 150 feet deep and was maintained at a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees.     The New York Times

In 1933 when a new gymnasium was built, the name of this building was changed to Ely Hall.

The department of physical education was the first regularly organized department of its kind in an American college.