In 1985, the movie Hoosiers was filmed in the gym and brought new life to the nearly 100 year old structure. Before the Knightstown Gym became The Hoosier Gym, Home of the Hickory Huskers, it served the community for 64 years.
Originally, Knightstown began playing basketball on the third floor of the Knightstown Academy Building. One of the requirements of playing on that court was playing around two posts one on each end of the court. Obviously, those were not ideal conditions to play the game. The citizens of Knightstown decided it was time to find a new home for the then Knightstown Falcons. That new home was above Jolly Drug Store in the downtown area. This was less than ideal as attendance quickly outgrew the drug store attic. It was time to find a more permanent solution.
Community leaders formed a group of investors to raise money for a new gymnasium. They successfully achieved their goal and on November 25th, 1921, the Sulphur Springs Blue Birds played the Knightstown Falcons in the first ever game held in the gym. The Gym stands today much like it looked in 1921, as a testament to their foresight.
However, the testament to those developers of the Gym, would not be here today were it not for the single minded determination of one special lady. Prior to the filming of Hoosiers, a gym in Waveland Indiana was supposed to be the home gym of the Hickory Huskers. That special lady, Peg Mayhill, was determined that the Knightstown gym should be the home of the Huskers. She had multiple reasons, her husband Tom was the Editor of the Knightstown Bannerand had attended almost every game played by Knightstown in the gym from 1947 through that final game in 1966. Her son played on the final KHS team that played in the gym, and her daughters had been cheerleaders there as well. For her it had to be filmed in Knightstown, where she had spent so many hours watching games. She was successful in her quest. Had it not been for her efforts, the Hoosier Gym would surely be a parking lot for the Academy Building Apartments next door.
Today the Knightstown Gym is now The Hoosier Gym & Museum and is visited by an average of over 60,000 visitors per year. It has been visited by individuals from 70 countries, and every state of the union many times over. First and foremost it remains a basketball gym. Each season the gym hosts over 100 games with the majority of those being between high school teams. All of those high school games are from the schools regular schedule and are not exhibitions. Teams from Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan and of course, the hotbed of high school basketball, Indiana have all played here.The Gym also hosts Indiana's best high school basketball players in the annual Hoosier Classic.
Visitors keep coming to mark an item off of their buck list. It has become more difficult to schedule games as more team want to play than there are dates. As you read this, if you have not visited, do so. If you have visited, come again.
The Academy Building
The Academy Building, which finished construction in 1876 for a cost of $25,000,served grades 1 through 12 until 1966.The building continued to serve elementary classes until 1987. Shortly after Dr. James Naismith invented basketball, Knightstown began playing on the third floor of the Academy. Eventually, the team moved locations for a more ideal location.
This historic school building is located right next to the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, IN. In 1876, it was built originally as a Quaker Academy. It then functioned as the local public high school. It is now an apartment building for senior living. In 1976, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The building has an architecture design of Second Empire style. It has classic symmetry with a red-brick structure. It has twin four story square towers that are capped with steep mansard roofs and by a metal telescope and a globe. The roofs have grey and green shingles in a decorative pattern. The lower level of the Academy is brick with a limestone base. The original section of the building was constructed in 1876 with a matching addition built ten years later. The first class graduated in 1877.
The original building contains four large rooms and a commodious hall on the first and second floors and three large rooms on the third floor. On each side of the front door are stairways which are largely self-supporting and rise to the third floor. The full basement has walls three feet in thickness. The third floor has not been used for classes since 1887 at which time a two-story wing, also brick, was added to the rear of the building. The exterior of this wing is identical to the original structure. The interior contains two large and two small rooms on each floor. In 1931 another brick wing was added to the west of the rear addition. This wing was built in a style typical of school buildings of the 1930's.
John Irwin Morrison, president of the School Board at the time the school was built, supervised the planning and construction of the building. Morrison served in the Indiana House of Representatives and Senate before retiring to Knightstown. Morrison hired the renowned architect John Adam Hasecoster to design the building. It was at Morrison’s suggestion that the symbolic globe and telescope were incorporated into the school design. Charles A. Beard, the noted American Historian graduated from the Academy in 1891.
In 1976, the Academy Building was placed on the National Historic Register due to its historical importance and architecture. In 1992, it was purchased by a Michigan company to be repurposed as an apartment building. In the fall of 2018, CFH Enterprises, LLC purchased the building. A 501c3 non-profit, Academy Place Apartments, Inc, was set up to manage the building. Today the building is known as the Academy Place Apartments. It serves as a Senior Living Facility and disabled community with 38 apartments. It also serves as a community center hosting events for Knightstown such as Easter Egg Hunts, Law Enforcement Block Parties, Christmas Walks and has collaboration with local schools to establish intergenerational relationships.
Knightstown is a town in Wayne Township, Henry County, Indiana and is located about thirty-two miles east of Indianapolis. It was platted in 1827 by Waitsell M. Carey. It derives its name from Jonathan Knight, a prominent engineer of the time who surveyed land along National Road. Montgomery Creek borders the town to the west and Big Blue River to the east. The land was a good location for a town due to its close proximity to these waterways as well as the National Road, also known as US 40, a major east-west roadway. Knightstown was once the largest community in Henry County. Today some of the buildings and locations here are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, such as its historic downtown and Knightstown Academy.
Knightstown exhibits the full range of nineteenth century Indiana architecture. There are several Greek Revival and Italianate houses that reflect the substantial growth of the pre-1870s period. There are also a large number of Gothic Revival Style houses. Knightstown also has Queen Anne houses and bungalows, as well as an ample supply of Carpenter Builder houses and a sampling of brick and concrete block houses.
Knightstown was shaped by the establishment of the National Road 40 and the railroad.By 1819, some settlers had come into the future Knightstown area. When the National Road was surveyed, it crossed a farm belonging to Waitsell M. Cary. In 1827, Cary hired one of the surveyors, Jonathan Knight, to plat out a town between Montgomery Creek and the Blue River. Knight was an engineer on the National Road and U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania. Cary named the town for Jonathan Knight. Cary also built the first structure in the town, which is now marked by a plaque on the northeast corner of Main and Washington Streets. In 1833, a post office was established with Joseph McCalley as postmaster. That post office is still in operation.
About 1853, the first railroad from Knightstown to Shelbyville was completed. At this time business started to grow and go up in value. This was a primitive railroad, the rails of which were of wood, stripped with flat bar iron. It was abandoned in 1853, but when present Louisville and Benton Harbor division of the Big Four railway was completed in the summer of 1891, running south through the western part of the county, it followed some of the track.
Some famous people known to Knightstown are the former Secretary of Agriculture (1969-1971) Clifford M. Hardin and historian Charles A. Breard. Charles A. Beard gained recognition from the Knightstown school system by it being now called the Charles A. Beard School Cooperation. Character actor Forrest Lewis was born in Knightstown. He is best known for the recurring role of Officer Kelly in the films: The Shaggy Dog, the Absent-Minded Professor,and Son of Flubber. He also appeared on many TV series, including The Andy Griffith Show andthe Dick Van Dyke Show.
Knightstown’s slogan proclaims, “Knightstown is a great place to visit and a better place to live.” Alongside the gym, Knightstown has a public golf course called Royal Hylands. In 2006, it was named among the top 25 public golf courses in the state by the Indiana Golf Association tournament players. For camping, there is the Jellystone Park which has tent campsites and cabins available. Every June, Knightstown hosts an annual festival called Jubilee Days.