James Benjamin Clark
July 11, 1835 - December 6, 1908
In 1904, two Daily Texan editors led the drive to name the Athletic Fields for Judge James Benjamin Clark, who had served as a member of the Board of Regents from 1883-1885, and as Proctor, Librarian and Secretary of the Faculty from 1894-1897. He also had performed a myriad of duties including building and grounds manager, dean of students, registrar, business manager and admissions officer. Clark graduated from Franklin College Tennessee and studied law at Harvard University. He served in the 18th Mississippi Regiment of the Confederate Army in 1861, served as editor of the Kentucky People in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and practiced law in Bonham, Texas beginning in 1875. A 1927 article in the UT alumni magazine Alcalde stated that Clark had "done more for The University than any other man connected with the school."
Photo courtesy of:
Prints and Photographs Collection
Center for American History
The University of Texas at Austin
In 1887, an athletic field was constructed at the corner of 24th Street and Speedway. It was first known as the Varsity Athletic Field. In 1904, the field was renamed Clark Field, honoring "Judge" James B. Clark, who served as Proctor for UT from 1885 until his death in 1908. As Proctor, he performed duties as manager of buildings and grounds, dean of students, registrar, business manager, admissions officer and secretary to the faculty.
The UT football and track teams used Clark Field until their move to Memorial Stadium in 1924. The baseball team played at this location through the 1927 season, when The University claimed the land as the future site of Taylor Hall. The baseball team moved to the new Clark Field, just north of Memorial Stadium, at Red River and 23rd Streets. This location remained the home of the Longhorn baseball team through the 1974 season. At that time, Clark Field was closed to make way for the College of Fine Arts and the Performing Arts Center. With these changes, the name Clark Field was transferred to the recreational area known since 1928 as Freshman Field, located east of Waller Creek between 19th and 21st Streets.
A major renovation of Clark Field took place in the early 1980s, at which time Recreational Sports assumed management of the facility. Clark Field was developed to include four basketball courts, eight handball/racquetball courts, par course exercise stations, new lighting, and a running track with an inner and outer loop with distances of 448 and 629 yards. In May 1999, the site was turned over to The University for construction of a student dormitory with the provision that at the conclusion of the project, approximately half of the space would return as outdoor activity space. To protect and redevelop as much green space as possible, the basketball courts were relocated to the site of an adjacent parking lot. The basketball courts reopened in the Spring of 2001.
On August 29, 2001, Clark Field completed the move to its current location at San Jacinto Boulevard and 21st Street, just a stone's throw from the new San Jacinto Residence Hall. The new Clark Field consists of four outdoor basketball courts, a quarter-mile free form recreational jogging/walking track, four sets of fitness stations and a turf area lighted for night time play.