The idea for the Alexander Memorial Coliseum as a living memorial to William A. Alexander, longtime football coach and athletic association director, was conceived shortly after his death in April 1950. These records document the fundraising activities of the volunteer corps that set out to raise $1.5 million in three months.
(one half-sized document case)
Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.
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The Alexander Memorial Coliseum Campaign records include correspondence, administrative materials, promotional materials, reports, and invitations documenting the fund-raising efforts of the volunteer corps. These materials were originally glued into a scrapbook, so many of them are in poor condition. The bulk of the materials relate to the original campaign, from September through December, 1950, though a few items, including dedication invitation and newsclippings, date from the completion of the building in 1956. The correspondence includes letters of appeal written by President Blake Van Leer, Bobby Dodd, and national chairman Carter Barron, as well as reminders for meetings of the Greater Atlanta division. The reports include daily bulletins from the period of concentrated fundraising activities, December 4-8, 1950.
The promotional materials include brochures, tickets to kickoff events, and background information for the volunteers. Alexander of Georgia Tech, also published as a promotional item for this campaign, contains an extensive biography of Coach Alexander. Although these records document the early period of the capital campaign, they do not provide any insight into the decision-making process or the intervening years between the original kickoff and the groundbreaking for the coliseum.
Plans for the Alexander Memorial Coliseum were first conceived after the death of long-time coach and Athletic Association director William A. Alexander in 1950. The original plans called for a structure with a seating capacity of 10,000 to 13,000, which would be used for basketball games, tennis, physical training, civic meetings, conventions, commencements, and lectures. With construction costs estimated at $2,500,000, the Athletic Association offered to assume $1,000,000 of the costs and the remaining $1,500,000 would be raised among alumni, students, faculty, staff, and the community.
The Alexander Memorial Fund Committee kicked off the capital campaign on September 26, 1950. Monday, November 13, 1950 was designated "Georgia Tech Night," with nationwide Georgia Tech meetings to solidify the campaign and an Atlanta parade in honor of William Alexander.
The campaign committee, under direction of general chairman Robert L. MacDougall, was highly structured, divided into divisions, sections, team captains, and team leaders. Charles K. Yates,John O. Chiles, and Muggsy Smith served as co-chairs for the greater Atlanta area, and Walter L. Mitchell chaired the Georgia division. Carter T. Barron, Class of 1927, initially served as national chairman, but after his sudden death in mid-November 1950, L. W. "Chip" Robert, Jr. shouldered this responsibility. Ben F. Gordon was responsible for publicity, and Georgia Tech President Blake Van Leer served as liaison.
The initial campaign was short and intense, with meetings held daily from December 4 through December 8. By mid-December, $1,363,096 had been pledged. Organizers extended the campaign into 1951, in hopes that the remaining funds could be quickly raised. By March 1951, donors had pledged over $1.5 million; however, by the summer of 1953, only $917,168 of the original pledges had been paid. Rapidly increasing prices, caused by the Korean War, compounded the problem, raising the original construction estimate from 2.5 to four million dollars. For the next several years, the administration battled rising costs, disintegrating interest, and limited funds, before finally deciding to scale down the original project to enable construction of a building that matched the size of the funds. Aeck Associates designed and engineered a smaller structure, with seating for 7,000.
Because so many of the original pledges had never been fulfilled, a clean-up committee, consisting of Chairman Jack McDonough, Ivan Allen, Jr., J. R. Anthony, David J. Arnold, John O. Chiles, Bobby Dodd, Howard Ector, Carlyle Fraser, C. R. LeBey, Freeman Strickland, and President Van Leer, was formed. The Alexander Memorial Coliseum was dedicated on October 27, 1956.
These records are arranged alphabetically by folder title.
A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.
Accession #1992.1001 (old number: 92-10-01).
One photograph, depicting the architectural plans and coliseum model, was separated to the General Photograph Collection.
(one half-sized document case)
Susan J. Illis processed these papers in 2000.