The first official athletic field was constructed in the spring of 1899 when the college athletic association reorganized and president Ellis left the school. In May 1899 the area between Agricultural Hall and the Chemical Building (Today the site of the South College Gym and Field house) was cleared of trees and drained of water. The ground was then graded to make a flat playing surface. With the railroad tracks on the west and South College Avenue on the east.
This low lying ground was actually a natural stream bed which is marked today by a tunnel under the railroad tracks. This stream becomes active when torrents of rain wash through the campus as was evident in the devastating flood of 1997 when the South College Gym received its worst damage.
The newly reformed football team of 1899 played the first games here on a playing surface made up of primarily dirt and rocks. In 1901 a graduate from the class of 1900 named Charles Durkee donated money for a tall wooden fence to be erected on three sides of the field with the railroad tracks acting as a barrier for the fourth side.
The 1934 Collegian article notes that it helped keep the non-paying people out better than the military cadets. In return for his fence the college named the athletic grounds "Durkee Field". Bleachers were later added for spectators to watch the games and military drills.
This field was described by former players and Harry Hughes as horrible to walk through let alone play football. The previously mentioned stream would reappear during wet weather and ran through the playing field during some games.
Harry Hughes' first football season of 1911 was the last season football was ever played at Durkee Field. When the rules of football changed to a 100 yard field, Hughes used that opportunity to build a better field for his athletes.
The military continued to drill on Durkee Field for several years and tennis courts were later added for women's athletics. In 1925 ground was broken for a new gym and field house that opened in 1927 and still stands there today.