Dalhousie's Studley Gym is one of the oldest buildings on campus. Before it, Dalhousie had a temporary gymnasium, built in 1921. When that was destroyed by fire in May 1931, plans for a replacement were immediately begun. Funding for the new gym came from a Bank of Nova Scotia loan.
The new gymnasium was a key part of the growth of the Studley Campus of Dalhousie (today the primary campus, which houses academic buildings, athletic facilities, and the Student Union Building). In November 1931, the cornerstone of the gym was laid by Board of Governors member Hector McInnes, who commented in his speech that the expansion of Dalhousie, in size and students, onto the Studley campus could be considered the Renaissance of the university. The Studley gym also served as a memorial to the lives lost in the First World War.
The Studley gymnasium was designed by architect Andrew Randall Cobb, who worked on numerous other campus buildings such as the Macdonald Building and Chemistry Building. Its style was designed to be in harmony with the rest of campus. It featured modern heating and electrical systems and the best amenities for the time, including one of the largest gym floors in Eastern Canada. The gym was also convertible so it could be subdivided for different sports at the same time, and also used for examinations, convocations, lectures, theatre performances and dances. Contracting for the gymnasium was awarded to the McDonald Construction Company, which began work in September 1931. The building officially opened in February 1932.
The Studley Gymnasium was home to the Athletics Department for many decades, as well as the School of Physical Education. By the 1970s, however, it was "outdated, dilapidated, [and] overtaxed" (University News, March 19, 1976). The student population of Dalhousie had multiplied more than eightfold and a new Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics Centre - the Dalplex - was greatly needed.
The Studley Gymnasium remains a part of the athletics facilities at Dalhousie, however. It is "a cozy gymnasium" with a capacity of 200, still used for varsity team practices, intramural and club activities. There are also offices for faculty and staff of the School of Health and Human Performance, as well as a dance studio in the basement.