There are large gyms. And then there are really large gyms. OPRF is the later.
The most shocking thing tom me about the Oak Park-River Forest High School’s field house may have been its total capacity. While 3,777 is nothing to sneeze at, making it one of the larger gyms in the state, looking at the length of the building with 11-rows in a balcony that stretches the entire west side of the gym, I just couldn’t help but feel like that number would’ve bene higher.
Standing in the far corner of the balcony watching a game from here wouldn’t be enjoyable without. pair of binoculars. Some athletic director brag about being able to run three courts side-to-side. I’m pretty sure OPRF could run three courts baseline-to-baseline and still have room for a full set of bleachers on each side.
Originally a stand alone building when it was finished roughly around 1927 (still getting a fact check on this) there has been talk over the years of demolishing the aging building and replacing it with a modern facility. There has also been talk about updating the building too. In the meantime the field house has stood the test of time, but may also be on borrowed time. So this is one gym you may want to put on your “get to soon” list.
On the north end of the field house is the basketball court. It is a permanent rubber floor, one of the few left in the state and as of Jan. 2023 the only one that looks like it will be featured in the book. While it’s not much to look at the metal beams holding up the ceiling are something worth staring at in-between periods.
If you’re feeling adventurous, journey to the the center part of the west side of the field house and make your way up to the balcony. Before actually going to the seating area there continue a few feet and check out the the stair case of the original entrance to the field house. Its Arts & Craft style are what much of the town of Oak Park is known for because of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.