Magazine article California History

Building on the Past

Magazine article California History

Building on the Past

Article excerpt

Not only connoisseurs of architecture and basketball are likely to be attracted to and engrossed by the subjects probed on the following pages. Who doesn't admire Bill Russell, one of basketball's all-time greats, newly inducted into the International Basketball Federation's Hall of Fame? And who doesn't hold a poignant memory of classrooms and playing fields at schools attended years ago? Hundreds of thousands of little and big feet have trod the halls, grounds, and classrooms of campuses designed by Allison & Allison, one of California's foremost school architecture firms in the early decades of the twentieth century. And countless thousands of basketballs have bounced on the floor of the University of San Francisco's War Memorial Gymnasium for nearly half a century. These old places, the backdrop for immortal legends and promising futures, are the settings for this issue of California History.

Back in the 1950s, when Oakland-reared Russell led USF to a fifty-five-game winning streak and successive NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, the team had no campus home court. Today, a six-million-dollar update of the War Memorial Gymnasium will accommodate fourteen Division I intercollegiate athletic programs--the building's first major renovation since it opened in 1958. It is, Aram Goudsouzian suggests, the house that Bill Russell built. In his essay, "The House That Russell Built: Bill Russell, the University of San Francisco, and the Winning Streak That Changed College Basketball," Goudsouzian relates the extraordinary skill and drive Russell demonstrated as champion of the Dons, the remarkable circumstances and daring surrounding his victorious San Francisco seasons, and the historic contributions made to college basketball from the campus on a hill. …

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