Gibson CountyIndianaTri-State Treasures

Tri-State Treasures: Fort Branch Gym

It’s been 45 years since the Fort Branch Twigs played their final game.

But the gym that they once called home, now lives on in a different form.

The echoes of Hoosier high school hoops can still be heard inside a Gibson County gymnasium.

Thanks to volunteers, alumni, and local business owners, the Fort Branch High School gym has survived roof damage, renovations, high heating bills, and decades of uncertainty.

Volunteer Bill Knapp explains the relationship the Fort Branch community shares with a group of former students tasked with saving their old gym.

“The Fort Branch Alumni is an organization formed for this gymnasium, who have put all the nostalgia in here, put all the class jackets on the walls and in the hallway here, and helped with all the memorabilia,” Knapp explained.

The last class to toss their tassels as students of Fort Branch High School graduated in the spring of 1975.

Going from Twigs to Titans over the summer, eventually merging into Gibson Southern High School.

Beyond basketball, the gym finds creative ways to raise funds for its upkeep.

“We charge $20 an hour to rent this gym, and there’s a two-hour minimum. We don’t want to put the price high, because we want people to be able to use it,” Knapp said. “That’s the only way we can keep the doors open and pay our heating bill, is to rent it out to people for basketball, or pickleball, or volleyball, and quite a few people rent it for birthday parties for young kids.”

Money was an issue in years past, as the gym’s wooden roof was in need of repairs. It took one of the area’s biggest employers to step in.

“That was a big problem, and Toyota did a big contribution. And it ran about $100,000, so we didn’t know if we could make it or not. We didn’t know if we’d have to shut the gym down,” Knapp explained, then going on to say, “this building here was not built to heat. Back then, they had coal, and that was plentiful and cheap, so they didn’t insulate anything. And this building does cost a lot to heat in the wintertime. Up to $2000 a month, in a real cold month.”

Although small in size with about 300 seats total, the Fort Branch Gym actually houses another not-for-profit organization – all within the walls of what is officially known as the “South Gibson Community and Teen Center.”

“This 5th quarter is just for the high school kids after football games and basketball games. And it’s really just a nice place for kids to come and not get in trouble after the games,” Knapp said.

What once served as locker rooms and showers, now provides a safe hangout for students – and the next generation of students wanting to preserve this Tri-State treasure.

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