February 23, 1934
The Helen Kenyon Hall of Physical Education, honoring the chairman of the board of trustees, Helen Kenyon ‘05, was dedicated, Allen and Collens, architects. The mediaeval revival style of the $400,000 building—built with gifts from alumnae, other friends of the college and college funds—contrasted with the building‘s program, which reflected the innovative ideas of the euthenics curriculum into which it was planned to fit. In remarks at the dedication, President MacCracken said the building embodied “the transition of physical education from its earlier function as a callisthenic drill to its incorporation as a social institution in daily life.”
The New York Times hailed the new building's novel features, citing the soundproof rooms “so that the din of games will not carry through the building” and “the thermostatic control so that varying climates can be provided, a summer temperature for the swimming pool, one like spring in the individual exercise room and a brisk October day in the basketball courts. An indoor tennis court is included.” Other facilities included: four bowling alleys; three squash courts; a body mechanics laboratory; fencing, trophy, sun lamp, dancing and club rooms, a kitchenette and a golf practice cage.
Over 200 alumnae joined the honoree for the dedicatory dinner, and in his dedicatory address, Dr. William Darrach, a Vassar trustee and dean emeritus of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, touched on the building’s special purpose. “The purpose of this building is physical education,” he said. “It is a laboratory where the art of physical development may be learned so thoroughly that it will be practiced throughout life by every Vassar alumna and taught by her to oncoming generations.” Noting Vassar’s “one great advantage” over men’s colleges in physical education, “the absence of intercollegiate competition,” Darrach said, “Here, all the attention of the department should not be to develop a few extreme examples but to make it possible for each student to reach her best development.” The New York Times