Over 130 Years in the Glens Falls Region

It’s hard to imagine Glens Falls as a mere village, at a time when no car or traffic light could be seen on its dirt and brick streets and the gaslight lamp posts of Glen Street shone brightly at night, yet it was in this environment that the Glens Falls YMCA was born.

On December 2nd, 1887 a group of local church and community leaders met to discuss organizing a YMCA.  They were concerned for the welfare of young men, the temptation of the many saloons on South and West streets in particular, and hoped that a YMCA would provide a counter-attraction for boys who had nowhere to go.  Just one year later the Glens Falls YMCA obtained its charter.

When the first official ‘Y’ building opened its doors in 1892 at 221-229 Glen St. it was a center for vibrant social affairs.  The Y hosted lectures, mock trials, spelling bees, and musical performances.  The “Y” Men’s Club, Phalanx Fraternity, and Yomechas boasted high membership and held bi-weekly meetings, dinners, and discussions.  The YMCA Bicycle Club planned rides to Lake George and the more than 100 Women’s Auxiliary members organized fundraisers such as ‘Strawberry and Cream’ festivals.

In 1909, thanks to an endowment from Y founding father William McEchron, a gymnasium, bowling alley, and one of the first indoor Y swimming pools in the country were added.  The Glens Falls YMCA supported church-league basketball teams, men’s gymnastics, and a Y organized baseball team that competed as far north as Plattsburgh. Group calisthenics classes using weighted wands and Indian clubs were held in the gymnasium and swimming lessons were offered for all ages.