The history behind Nicholson Pavilion

Ondrea Machin, Staff Reporter

Nicholson Pavilion is known for its unique structure and hosting many events from sports to summer camps, but how it got its name is just as interesting as its design.

It was built in 1959 and then was renovated in 2008 with new floors and bleachers. The building is mainly used for sport events and educational purposes. It was named after Coach Leo Nicholson, who coached the men’s basketball team from 1929-1964.

Coach Nicholson had 505 career winning games and had the most wins until his son Dean Nicholson took over. They became known as the “winningest father son duo in NCAA basketball history,” Deputy Director of Athletics Gary Hyatt said.

“Basketball has been really important to our community and to [CWU], we’ve had a long tradition of winning and so there’s been a lot of great games played here,” Hyatt said.

The architect who built Nicholson Pavilion also built 11 buildings just like it, but Nicholson Pavilion is the only one left standing.

Hyatt said Nicholson Pavilion is “architecturally unique” because there are no weight bearing walls and wires hold up the ceiling, which allows for large workout spaces and gives the building its unique look. Also, there are underground low voltage generators that send electrical currents up the wires to prevent them from rusting.

Director of Athletics Dennis Francois said CWU has proposed legislation to remodel Nicholson Pavilion. The remodel would combine Purser Hall and Nicholson Pavilion and would increase the seating capacity, to make it more like an arena and host university events and attract Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) state events.

“When you have those types of events, it’s a great attraction for our university and impact on enrollment but also a huge impact on our community,” Francois said.

 According to Francois, the idea is to make Nicholson Pavilion a regular site for state high school events and expose potential students to CWU. The remodel would create more seating, enhance the performance gym, enlarge the fieldhouse and allow for two new weight rooms, one for health and physical education and one for varsity athletics.

Nicholson Pavilion’s remodel is pending funding approval and once construction begins, the hope is to bring more activities and economic impact to CWU and the community.