Newly Restored Gym Serves as Community Center for Once Tornado-Wrecked Illinois Town

Oct 19, 2017
Originally published on October 17, 2017 1:43 pm


The Brookport Betterment Committee is giving a second chance to one of the southern Illinois city’s historic buildings.

The Harry Statham Gym has been undergoing renovations made possible through donations for about a year. BBC Media Coordinator Debbie Christiansen said city revitalization efforts “add a little enjoyment to life” after a tornado devastated much of Brookport in 2013. The restored gym now serves as a community gathering space.

“We’re just wanting a place for the youth and all other members of the community to be able to come in and use the gym and enjoy it like we have in the past,” said Christiansen.

BBC President Rance Phillips said the 63-year old gym suffered some damage from the tornado, but saw the building as a benefit to the community.

“Brookport had lost a lot of historical buildings in town over the years as well as what the tornado damage did,” said Phillips, “We just couldn’t stand the thought of taking a building down that could be used for the youth and the city in general.”

The BBC president said the restoration is ongoing and more improvements will be made as funds become available. The building currently hosts youth sports leagues and is open for rentals. Phillips said he hopes the building will become a meeting place for the city of Brookport.

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