Woollen Gym opened in March 1938 to serve as a replacement for Bynum Gymnasium, which the university had long outgrown. In addition to more space for games and exercises, the most exciting feature of the new gym was the Bowman Gray Memorial Pool, which was said to be the largest pool in the South when it opened. In December 1938 the gym hosted a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The men's basketball team began playing its home games in Woollen in 1939; their first game there was a victory over Atlantic Christian College.
Basketball games moved to the larger Carmichael Auditorium after it opened in 1965, but Woollen remained a center for student activities. The gym celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1988 with a series of events, including a mass aerobics class that drew approximately 300 people.
The building is named for Charles Woollen, an administrator at UNC for several decades. Woollen began working on campus as an assistant to the university president in the early 1900s. He held a series of jobs, including registrar, business manager, and comptroller. He was an early advocate for the new gym and helped oversee its construction. Woollen was also the first director of the UNC band. Under his leadership the band became a regular feature at home football games.
Date Established: 1936
Date Range: 1936 – Present