It seems like it’s impossible to write a blog post about any building on campus without talking about what came before or after. In this case, a look at Foster Auditorium led down an unexpected path — to Coleman Coliseum. But how?
When Foster was built in 1939, it had no name.
It eventually took its name from UA President Richard Clarke Foster, who unexpectedly died while in office in 1941.
While it’s called an auditorium, we’d more accurately call it a gymnasium, and it saw students through lots of events throughout the year.
First, there was registration — back when you had to signup for classes on paper!
There would also be pep rallies of all sorts, as well as basketball games.
It also hosted plenty of non-sports-related events. Here it is packed with chairs for speeches and transformed for a dance.
Of course, we think of Foster, we also think of its defining moment: the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, the day in June 1963 when Governor Wallace attempted to bar Vivian Malone and James Hood from registering for classes at the university.
This is Foster today.
In front of the building is Malone-Hood Plaza, celebrating the desegregation of the university.
By the time Foster had its big moment in the news, it was already outgrowing its usefulness. In the late 1960s, a new facility was built, one that would also be multipurpose.
Like Foster, Coleman wasn’t named after anyone at first. It was just known as Memorial Coliseum.
In 1988, it was named in honor of Jefferson Coleman, a prominent alumnus who held many positions at the university, including Business Manager of the football team and Director of Alumni Affairs. (Take a look at his photo collection in Acumen.)
Since its construction, it’s served the university in a number of capacities, including hosting concerts, celebrating graduations, and, of course, being the home court for UA’s basketball program.
This is Coleman Coliseum today, smack dab in the middle of an ever-growing athletic complex.