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Downtown YMCA Then and Now




Postcard Back

The downtown YMCA has a nice page on the history of the YMCA and specifically the YMCA in Richmond.

The Richmond YMCA dedicated its new building at Foushee and Franklin street on June 28, 1942.  At the time, it was the most modern Y facility in the nations and the largest in the city’s history.

The YMCA captured its plans and goals for the building in a details 1938 report.  Significantly, the study called for bring more young women to the YMCA, including a women’s locker room and rest rooms be provided.  The Richmond YMCA had a female presence from the beginning.  Female auxiliaries were a standard feature at YMCAs across the nation.

As World War II became a possibility, YMCA leaders prepared for soldiers’ arrival before the war began.  The YMCA helped to form the USO.  Richmond had three USO facilities, all three welcomed hundreds of thousands of people.  In 1943, for example, the USO at 2nd and Grace streets entertained 540,000 men.

Even as the YMCA of Greater Richmond moved aggressively into the Richmond suburbs, it recognized it could play an important, positive role in the City of Richmond.  So, the decision was made in the late 1970s to stay in the 1942 building at Franklin and Foushee (where it remains today) and to support the North Richmond YMCA and Community Center.  The YMCA chose to renovate the structure beginning in the early 1970s.  This work continued for the next 30 years.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.