As late as the 1950s, the entire gymnasium facilities of the University of Wisconsin were contained in just two buildings: the “Old Red Gym” built in 1892, and Lathrop Hall, built in 1909. Students contemptuously referred to “that bathtub in the red gym,” and there was a widespread feeling that UW had the worst physical education facilities in the Big 10.
This building, designed in two units that were completed in 1960 and 1967, finally gave the UW a far more adequate complement of recreational facilities: a large racing pool and diving pool, numerous gymnasiums, squash and racquetball courts, lockers, classrooms, and a library. Its original official name was the “New Gymnasium,” but it quickly came to be known as “the Natatorium.”
The Natatorium is a near neighbor of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, and the beautiful Willow Creek Indian Mound Group is located between it and the lakeshore.