YMCA of Greater Dayton has provided programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body since 1858.

y lobbyOn the evening of July 8, 1858, a small group of gentlemen met in the Wesley Chapel on Third Street downtown to establish a Young Men’s Christian Association in Dayton, Ohio. It lasted until October of 1861 when it was disbanded due to the Civil War.

The decision to re-establish the YMCA in Dayton was made on February 13, 1870 by a group of pastors. The formal organization occurred on March 2, 1870 and Robert W. Steele was named president of the first Board of Directors. There were 247 members at this time.

From 1870 to 1875 the local association met in a rented room over the Dayton Journal. During this period, David Sinclair became general secretary. In 1875 the YMCA moved to Dunlevy house at 32 East Fourth Street. The property stood on a 66 by 200 foot lot and cost $24,000. The money for the building was raised through a public campaign. Later an assembly hall was added at the rear.

By 1886 the East Fourth Street building had become too small. A public campaign raised funds to build a new structure on the site of the old one. The new building, dedicated in February 1887, was designed for 1200 members and would serve the Association, Sinclair said, for 50 years. It only took 10 years for the building to become overcrowded, but it remained the YMCA home for another 11 years.

early y boysIn 1902, Miss Mary Belle Eaker left her home on the northwest corner of Third and Ludlow to the Association. The new building that was constructed there was the second largest YMCA building in the world and opened in April 1908. It contained six stories and was valued at $500,000.

The building which now houses the Downtown branch was dedicated in September 1929. At that time the building contained 13 floors, 245 residence rooms, three gymnasiums, 15 classrooms, 4 laboratories, facilities for 1000 students, a swimming pool, chapel, library, handball and squash courts, and cafeteria auditorium and basement hall seating 450.

Today, the YMCA of Greater Dayton has 11 locations throughout the Miami Valley and services over 70,000 kids and families. Branches include the Coffman YMCA (Springboro), Downtown YMCA (Dayton), Fairborn YMCA, Xenia YMCA, Huber Heights YMCA, Kleptz YMCA (Englewood), Preble County YMCA (Eaton), South YMCA (Kettering), West Carrollton YMCA, YMCA Neighborhood Development Center Trotwood, and YMCA Camp Kern.

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