YMCA celebrating a century in Van Wert
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 12:01 AM
YMCA Of Van Wert staff, board members and members joined with local well-wishers to hold a ceremonial ribbon cutting Monday to kick-off the YMCA’s Centennial Celebration. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
VAN WERT — The YMCA of Van Wert County is celebrating its 100 year anniversary. That celebration officially began on Monday with a ribbon cutting with the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce.
The featured event for the centennial is a public open house, Saturday, April 5, from 12-4 p.m. At that event, free cake and punch will be served, a bounce house will be onsite for children, and historical building tours will be available to observe this historic milestone.Those tours will be given by YMCA board members, management staff and designated YMCA ambassadors.
The YMCA of Van Wert County was incorporated in 1914, when John Strandler left one-third of his estate for a structure and the remainder in an endowment fund to be used to establish a local YMCA. Along with the Strandlers, several other Van Wert residents donated funds and land for a YMCA. Those residents included the Woodruff Family, the Priscilla Buckingham estate, Mr. Earl Gleason, D.L. Brumback, John P. Reed, C.A.L. Purmort, E.I. Antrim, and C.F. Wassenberg. The building was dedicated on April 15, 1917.
Early activities at the YMCA included: the Strandler Club, ward baseball league, boys Pioneer Club, bicycle hikes, tumbling classes, hobby fairs, and bowling leagues. The first bowling alleys in Van Wert were located in the YMCA.
The YMCA of Van Wert County began to include women in its membership in 1971. Family memberships were initiated in 1975 with the Ron Bagley family.
The YMCA remains at its original site, though five major additions have been made since the initial construction—racquetball courts, pool, four additional gymnasiums and the Wellness Center.
To commemorate its centennial, the YMCA invites the public to celebrate. Along with the April 5 event, any new annual membership paid in full on April 5 will receive a $100 discount. Information about this and any other programs available through the Van Wert YMCA can be found by calling (419) 238-0443 or visiting www.vwymca.org.