Recreation & Life Lessons
The Fred C. Nelles School for Boys had a strong athletic tradition to provide recreation and life lessons to its wards; and the Gymnasium played a large role in that tradition. Completed in 1934, the Gymnasium was designed by California State Architect George McDougall in the Romanesque Revival-style. Key architectural elements of the Gymnasium have been recreated in a new building found in Heritage Court.
As a recreation center for the school, the Gymnasium supported the cottage system ideals of family, community, and belonging. It was through the athletic program where wards learned teamwork, good sportsmanship, and honesty which was thought to contribute to their development as useful citizens. A 1943 booklet promoting the school described the purpose of the physical education program: “first, to develop in the individual boy a healthy body and a wholesome mind; and second, to encourage the establishment of correct health habits and attitudes through various opportunities for self-expression and leadership.”