E.F. Swinney donated $250,000 for the building of Swinney Gymnasium, the “modern, 3-story gymnasium” built Aug. 13, 1940.
Swinney was the chairman of the board at the First National Bank downtown.
Before the Swinney donation, the University of Kansas City (UKC) used the old garage from the Walter S. Dickey mansion, or Scofield Hall, as the previous gym. Dickey used the garage for his many vehicles and as a lodge for his servants.
Swinney’s love for athletics and belief in the university made the gymnasium possible.
It was built large enough to provide facilities for 2,500 students and had a billiards room and four bowling alleys.
The building stands at the former site of the tennis courts, between Holmes and Cherry streets and 51st and 50th streets.
Students were so elated by the building of the facility, the student body came together, marched to the bank from the school, to personally present Swinney with a letter of thanks. Not wanting to be recognized for the donation and hoping to stay anonymous, Swinney humbly accepted.
Swinney Gymnasium was dedicated on Sept. 22, 1941. UKC’s Board of Trustees Chairman Ernest Howard addressed the crowd at the dedication, “Throughout his life, Edward Swinney has believed that a strong healthy body is necessary for a vigorous, intellectual life.”