From the first Monday in January 1885 until April 1, 1886, when its first building opened, the School for Christian Workers (now Springfield College) used the rooms of the YMCA in Springfield. The School's leaders determined in December 1884 that $22,500 should be raised to fund the construction of its own building at Armory Hill. At the February 23, 1885 Board meeting, trustees voted to purchase the lot of land on the corner of Sherman and State Streets for $5,500, and a building committee was created to propose a plan for the School for Christian Workers building.
According to the November 7, 1885 issue of theSpringfield Daily Union, the building would consist of several spaces: a reading room (26 X 18 feet), a gymnasium (49 X 41 feet), a recitation room for evening classes (16 X 20 feet), an amuseument room for quiet games (14 X 20 feet), a parlor, and the secretary's cosy room (14 X 16 feet). The building also contained 50 sleeping rooms designed to comfortably accommodate 75 students on the third and fourth floors. Modeled after that at the Boston YMCA, the gymnasium contained a running track, gymnastics apparatus, bathrooms and water closets, and dressing rooms. In his third annual report (September 1886), Jacob Bowne, chair of the Armory Hill YMCA and head of the School's YMCA department, included a detailed list of the gymnastics equipment on site: punching bags; chest developers; wrist, forearm, and abdominal machines; chest and rowing weights; giant and floor pullies; horizontal, parallel, and breast bars; climbing ropes and poles; quarter circle rope ladder; spring board and leaping standards; flying rings and indian clubs; wooden and iron dumbbells; two spirometers; two dynamometers as well as 100 dressing boxes, three tubs and a shower bath. By the time the building was dedicated May 31, 1886, some 304 volumes had been contributed as the nucleus for a library. The building, constructed by contractor E.W. Shattuck, cost $34,520.
Research conducted by Michael Kilmartin, class of 2008.