Relic from KU's Past Flies Home

Hoops fans and history buffs who visit KU to see the cradle of basketball won’t be disappointed by the experience, but they might be surprised that it includes a dragon. Near the exhibits that tell the story of KU’s legacy sits a stone winged dragon from Old Snow Hall, where James Naismith’s first KU basketball players practiced. 

Originally built in 1886 for Francis Snow’s biological specimens and science classes, Old Snow Hall’s limestone exterior featured a winged dragon perched above its entryway. In the late 1890s, James Naismith taught physical education in the hall’s converted basement gym. Naismith had an office in Snow and introduced the first KU basketball games there. The gym floor was dug out three feet under the foundation for the sport, and columns were removed. The building was deemed unsafe in the 1930s and torn down.

The dragon on exhibit was rescued from salvage by KU alumnus and stone mason Keith Middlemas. He offered it to the DeBruce Center through KU Endowment, and the stone was put on display at the center in late 2017.