150 years at the Y

Warren County YMCA celebrating anniversary with a little bit of history

Photos submitted to Times Observer First Y on Liberty (Clue Ribbon Rentals currently).

The Warren County YMCA will be celebrating its 150 year anniversary in 2017.

The Y’s staff has been researching the 150 years of the Y. There has been a wealth of information found that was unknown to the staff and, of course, other information that the Y has continued to keep present in its mission since the very first meeting.

Records found at the Warren County Historical Society state that the Warren Y was established November 19, 1867, in the Lecture Room of the First Presbyterian Church, with the Reverend C.R. Patlee as chairman and the Reverend CC Parker as secretary.

One member from each of the five participating evangelical churches was appointed to draw up a constitution and by-laws: Joseph Brown, Robert Falconer, Peter Miller, C Smith, Jr., Professor Bright and Herman Breed.

The YMCA, over a period of years, has been an influential, progressive force in the community of which it was and is still a part. The Warren YMCA was chartered on August 10, 1891. At the beginning, meetings were held in various church parlors. Notice of these regular meetings appeared in the paper (The Warren Mail) each month.

By December 1869, the Y was in a financial position to secure a room over Thomas and Trushel’s Store in Mr. Verback’s building.

In 1870, the Y was in good financial health and was becoming a valuable part of the community. Weekly prayer meetings were held, a weekly “Y” column was in the newspaper (The Warren Mail) and a series of meetings for “literary exercises” were held under the direction of Messrs. CG Pollack, WM Lindsey, CC Thompson, Dr. I Ball and WM Hazeltine, MD.

In 1872, the Y established a public library (Warren’s first library). The Y leased the whole second story of Mr. Verback’s brick building. The “Y” Hall was the back of the building and one of the front rooms was the library. The library was not free. An individual had to buy a $5 yearly ticket and also had to pay 15 cents each time he drew out a book, as well as depositing the value of the book with the librarian.

From 1887-1910, the Y grew in numbers. Many activities went on including lectures, picnics, an outdoor club, vocal classes, debating society gospel meetings, Bible study, carnival, athletic tournaments, etc. In 1897 a new building on Liberty Street was dedicated. In 1900 a graphaphone was purchased and the first water barrel, filled with ice water, was placed on the sidewalk in front of the building for the benefit of the public. Also a new department was opened for boys age 12-17.

In 1904 the Y saw the installation of pool and billiard tables. It also received a special message from the founder of the YMCA, Sir George Williams, of London, England.

A swimming pool and adequate bathing facilities were installed in 1908. In 1916 the Y re-organized the Boy Scouts in May.

In June of 1916, 80 soldiers were feted and dined at the YMCA before leaving. They were presented with silk flags for Company I.

In October of 1908, they adopted the recommendation of the Physical Department Committee to do away with the wearing of swimming trunks in the pool for suits.

Between 1916-1922, the Y held indoor circuses, did hikes, donated money to the Red Cross, installed a Turkish Bath, had Ladies’ Night once a week, held night school (English, Arithmetic and Mechanical Drawing).

In July of 1920, ladies were invited to make use of the “Y” pool for the first time. They had to be wives and unmarried daughters of Y members and could only swim on Wednesdays.

In September of 1922, High School Gym Classes started in the YMCA building under the supervision of the public School Director.

The first Hi-Y club was during the 1930s with Wallace L Lott as President, Thomas K Creal, Jr. as Vice President, Frederick Mauer as Secretary and William Moran as Treasurer.  1930 was also the year the miniature golf course was installed. 1943 was the installation of bowling alleys. In 1944 the Y had a program that worked with prisoners of war at Bull Hill.

In 1956, the year of the big flood, the Y granted use of its facilities to Civilian Defense to be used as a Disaster Center. In 1967 the Scholarship Fund for the YMCA was made available by the Betts Foundation for those young person’s desiring to enter the YMCA profession. It was called the CR Betts YMCA Scholarship Fund. A young man and young woman were recipients of the first scholarship.

In 1982, the Warren YMCA opened its doors at the present location of 212 Lexington Avenue. An addition in 1997 included a second full-size gymnasium, an extension of the indoor track, state of the art weight room, fitness room, and two class rooms. The most recent addition was in 2015 with the addition of a Family/ADA locker room and an outside public playground.

The Warren YMCA has many activities going throughout the year to celebrate the 150th Anniversary. One fun (and free) event is the 150-Year Challenge. There are 15 challenges to choose from ranging from various exercises to reading. The y will also be hosting a Y Expo on Wednesday, April 19.

For further details on activities, events, programs the Warren YMCA, log on to www.warrenymca.org

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