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Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).
Reproduced exactly as published in 1971 - no updates, no corrections.

photo: clubs

  OLD YMCA--This is a photo of the old YMCA which was constructed in Brainerd in 1889. The building stood on what is now the site of the Golden Grill at Sixth and Front.

Brainerd's First YMCA Was Constructed in 1882

"The Young Men's Christian Association we regard as being, in its essential genius, a world-wide fellowship united by a common loyalty to Jesus Christ for the purpose of developing Christian personality and building a Christian society."

The YMCA in Brainerd is not quite ready to celebrate its Centennial year, but it does date back to 1885. That was the year that the Northern Pacific Railroad offered to build a YMCA in Brainerd so that the young men of the Railroad and the community would have a wholesome place to spend their leisure time. This building was built in 1889, at the corner of 6th and Front, home now of the Golden Grill, and it included two reading rooms, a lounge, and a gymnasium area. This was one of the first, if not the first, gymnasium in Brainerd. This building and this YMCA served the City of Brainerd until 1946 when the old YMCA' Building was torn down. Plans were immediately made to start raising funds for a new building.

Then in 1953, Louis Hostager of this City, died and left $200,000 to be used for the construction of a new YMCA. With the initial gift and through the efforts of Board President G. M. Halvorson, Miss Eleanor Nolan, and the entire community, an additional $315,000 was raised to build the first phase of the new YMCA building. This was completed in September of 1962.

It includes the first indoor olympic size swimming pool in the City of Brainerd. Hundreds have since learned to swim and realize the joy of water recreation. The pool also served the Brainerd Public Schools in all their swimming. The first Brainerd High School Swim team swam at the YMCA, often, holding their practice sessions at 6 in the morning. The Schools' Sixth Grade swim program,is still taught at the' YMCA pool. Life Saving and certifying instructors for many of the Lakes' beaches were and are trained in the YMCA Pool.

This new YMCA became one of the first Family YMCAs into the 1950's were primarily for boys and men, but in the early 1950's the philosophy of serving the entire family in YMCA programs was endorsed. The new Brainerd YMCA became a Family "Y" a philosophy that has swept the YMCAs of the country.

The YMCA was able to offer to Brainerd and the surrounding area swim instruction, recreation swims, Life Saving, Leader Examiner, Family swims, Father and Son Indian Guides, Health and Physical Fitness courses, Youth Clubs, Day Camping, Trip Camping pool, ping pong, and many other games and activities.

In 1968 the board of directors, with Bob Alderman as president, entered the second phase of the YMCA building program. A community fund drive was inaugurated to obtain funds to build a "Y" addition of a gym, handball courts, and additional locker rooms. Some $330,000 was pledged, and in August of 1969, construction began and was completed in the summer of 1970. This new addition includes a 106 foot x 72 foot gymnasium, two regulation handball or racket ball courts, entrance and balcony, exercise area for girls and women, and a future locker room for boys and men. The gym and handball courts were surfaced with Tartan flooring. The completion of this second phase gives the Brainerd area a complete full service Family YMCA. This should and will serve the community well and help make Brainerd and this area one of the great places to live.

The YMCA's outreach includes the surrounding communities, such as Aitkin, Little Falls, Crosby, Ironton, Deerwood, Staples, Pillager, Motley, Pine River, Pequot Lakes, Baxter. Community groups such as our churches have used the YMCA in their programs. We hope that the YMCA will be a positive force in this area, and will be at the 200th year of Brainerd an institution that has grown with Brainerd.

The present officers of the YMCA Board are president, Mrs. Dick Ebert, vice president, Einer Anderson; Secretary, Clarence Trueblood, and treasurer, Pete Humphrey. Other members of the Board are: Dr. Jack Echternacht, Mrs. James Cox, Harold E. Gethmann, Dr. Roy Ployhar, Bob Alderman, Paul Read, Dwane Larson, Carl E. Erickson, Marvin Falk, Bill Olinsted, Arne Moores, Don Johnson, Bud Schmid, Ken Wolleat, Dale Nathan, H. W. Longfellow, A. J. Loom(Goldie), Dr. Gene Sundberg, Mrs. A. Fieldinan, Jim McNutt, Don Samuelson, and Gene Steiger.

The board's president's since G. M. Halvorson in 1960 have been: Levi Johnson, Phil Budd, Dr. Jack Echternacht, Harold Gethmann, Bob Alderman, Maryin Falk, and the present Chairman is Mrs. Dick Ebert.

Mr. Clarence Trueblood has served as Secretary of the board since the early 1940's and the Brainerd YMCA has been a member of the United Fund since its beginning in January of 1970.

A. J. "Goldy" Loom has served on the YMCA board since the 1910's. Loom has also been a continuous member since 1906, a total of 65 years.

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