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The Downtown Athletic Club is located in three buildings; the Ax Billy, the Rex Theater, and the J.J. Newberry Building.

The Ax Billy Building was constructed in 1909-1910 as a two-story structure with a full basement. It was designed by W.T. Campbell, a local architect, and was the Ax Billy Department Store, reportedly the second largest department store in Oregon, outside of Portland. As the city expanded southward the building was then redesigned with the first story being converted into a series of display windows to match the original design of four bay windows on the Willamette Street frontage. The exterior is constructed primarily of cream-white terra cotta brick, Chicago-style windows and vertical panels of ornamental terra cotta tiles.

The Schaefer Brothers operated the Ax Billy Department Store until 1926, at which time it was sold to J.C. Brill, a major department store chain. Subsequent to that, the building was leased by the Mays Store chain until 1932 when the depression forced its closure. After the closure of the Mays Store, the interior of the building was redesigned to accommodate small shops and offices. The Willamette Street facade was broken up into four separate shops. The second story remained vacant until about 1947 when it was remodeled into office space. Just prior to the completion of the remodeling of the second story, a serious fire occurred on this level, extending down through the first floor which required much of the remodeling work to be redone.

In 1982, the Ax Billy Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. For the renovation and development, local developers were encouraged to submit proposals to the City of Eugene for the redevelopment of the building. Bennett Management Company proposed a multi-purpose athletic facility adding a top floor for a restaurant and offices, a plan which received the bid for development.

In the course of time, the Ax Billy Building has gone from one of the largest retail outlets in Oregon to one of the finest athletic facilities in the country. The Ax Billy has a long history which will be carried forward into a strong future, a tradition in which to take pride and build upon.

The Ax Billy Building currently houses the majority of the Club's facilities. The lap pool, locker rooms, cardio area, racquetball courts, juice bar, restaurant, lounge and a portion of the fitness center are all located within the structure that is the Ax Billy Building.

In 1987 the Downtown Athletic Club purchased the adjoined building, the National Theater. This building was originally built in 1905 as a playhouse under the name of the "Rex Theater." Later the playhouse was converted to a movie theater. This additional square footage allowed the Club to develop the following: Squash courts, gymnasium, additional aerobic studio, running track, weight room and fitness pool,
as well as conference facility. These additions were developed to be able to eventually take on multiple floors, with the interest to some day include possible hotel rooms.

In 1991 the Downtown Athletic Club began construction to add a conference facility atop the National Theater Building. During this construction the existing restaurant was closed and redesigned to include a sports bar, new dining facility, office space, outdoor deck seating and an expanded kitchen with a wood-burning pizza oven. The conference facility began operation early in 1992.

In 1993 the DAC remodeled its facilities and built a larger aerobic studio in the National Theater Building. It was during this construction that the "Gallery Walkway" was developed, connecting the new aerobic studio to the main level of the Club. A second pool, for fitness and exercise, was added directly below the aerobic studio and adjacent to the existing lap pool. Access to the fitness pool can be gained by walking directly across the deck of the lap pool. The fitness pool provides a warmer water temperature, and depth up to seven feet.

In 1994 the Downtown Athletic Club purchased its third building, the historic J.J. Newberry Building, located directly across the street from the National Theater. This new addition houses the administration offices and was thoroughly remodeled to provide a state certified daycare center, basketball courts, an additional aerobic studio (Studio II), a Pilates studio and an additional cardiovascular area. In 1998 the underground corridor, connecting the J.J. Newberry Building
which houses the basketball court and Newberry Child Care was completed.

   
 

 

   
 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


999 Willamette Street Eugene Oregon 97401
541.484.4011
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