Click here for our National History.

Click here to read the letter that started it all.

The timeline below offers a glance at the YMCA of the Capital Area's rich history since its inception in 1917.  The Y proudly serves the Capital Area and will continue to focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility as we move into the future.

The timeline below offers a glance at the YMCA of the Capital Area's rich history and many successes locally since 1917.  The Y proudly serves the Capital Area and will continue to focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility as we move into the future.

1917: 
YMCA organized in Baton Rouge.  B. B. Taylor first president; Samuel T. Sanders, Recording Secretary; Amos K. Gordon, Treasurer; W. Preston Barnes Jr. and Charles H. Stumberg, Vice Presidents; Hans C. Paulsen, Issac M. Causey, J.P. Norris, William S. Holmes, Frank B. Preston, Thomas D. Boyd, Arthur W. Norman, Douglas J. Manship, William C. Whitaker, Dr. Charles McVea and Amos K. Gordon, Board Members. A. K. Jones is employed as first part-time YMCA Executive by preliminary committee set out to raise $50,000 for the YMCA building. Governor R. G. Pleasant, O. B. Steele, H. Moyse along with others help organize the YMCA. The first YMCA Board is selected and organized on January 23. The Y receives its charter on January 30. The Building Fund campaign is also launched in January. Due to the intensifying war excitement and fears, only $9,000 is raised. The Y effort is postponed in April.

1923:
In January, the second YMCA Building Fund Drive is launched. This became the most successful of any fund drive in Baton Rouge to that date. From February 20-26, 2,270 givers subscribe $106,347.25 for the Fourth Street Building.

1924:
S.O. Robertson is employed as first full-time General Secretary on September 21.  Mr. Harrison is employed as first physical director in November at a salary of $2,400.

1925:
Fred F. Johnson is employed as first youth director at an annual salary of $2,250. The Fourth Street Branch is completed and opened April 1. Baton Rouge has a population 26,000 people. Methodist Men’s Bible Class, Methodist Sunday School Class and Humble Oil group are the first ones to use the building. Building cost of $125,000.

1925-1941:
During the depression, the YMCA operated on a budget of $19,000. Like much of the country, the Y had hard times during the depression.

1941:
Community Chest is organized with the Y and donates $10,500.

1942-47:
$55,000 YMCA debt is eliminated.

1945:
Baranco Clark YMCA is created with Fred Joseph, first Branch Executive Secretary.  Community Chest increases donation to YMCA from $10,500 to $22,500.  The YMCA's operating budget increases from $10,000 to $52,000 a year.

1953:
Camp Singing Waters composed of 73 acres off of Highway 190 near Holden is purchased on July 2 for $40,500 with A. Reed Gardner as YMCA President. Dan Riggs is employed as first youth and camp director at a salary of $3,900.

1956:
Capital Funds Campaign held for $1,200,000 with Tom P. Singletary as General Chairman. $500,000 is raised. First units of camp debt are paid from funds from Baranco Clark YMCA and Central YMCA.

1958:
Baranco Clark YMCA first building is finished and opened on East Boulevard.

1962:
On January 1, Earl Davis, General Director, retired and Fred M. McCord becomes Director.

1963:
Central YMCA built and opened on February 11. It moved from downtown location on Fourth Street, formerly Church Street, to 350 South Foster Drive. The Fourth Street building closes.

1964:
Fourth Street building sells to B.B. Taylor for $150,000.

1965:
Capital Campaign held for $750,000 with Alvin Furlow as General Chairman. $400,000 is raised. Gyms are built at Baranco Clark YMCA and Central YMCA and an outdoor pool is built at the Lamar YMCA from these funds.

1967:
Lamar YMCA is organized with the help of Judge Eugene McGehee.  Ellis Brown is the Branch Chairman and James Rentz is the Branch Executive. On December 8, the Baranco Clark YMCA holds a dedication ceremony for its new gymnasium.

1968:
Lamar YMCA pool opens. Gyms added to Central YMCA and Baranco Clark YMCA.

1969:
Metropolitan plan adopted for YMCA with twenty-four members at large and branches having two representatives each on Metropolitan Board. Central YMCA has its own Branch Executive. 

1970:
Gym floor is added to Central Branch gymnasium.

1971:
First full-time Branch Executive, Ramsey Falconer, is employed at Central YMCA. Total YMCA operating budget is $355,870 with 14,235 registered members and 2,134 non-registered members.

1972:
Operating budget increases to $372,853.

1973:
Campaign conducted with L.W. Eaton, Jr. as General Chairman, Bill Morris as Advance Chairman and Dr. Ed Glaze as Community Chairman.

1974:
Central YMCA handball courts are built by four YMCA members with their bank note being paid out by handball dues. Jogging track and eleven foot frontage on Foster Drive is purchased from Church of the Way Presbyterian for Central YMCA.

1975:
New gym floor added to Baranco Clark YMCA. Parents of swim team, build new outdoor pool at Central YMCA for $49,470. Parents are paying loan by contributing $50 per year per family.

1976:
New gym and administrative building are added to Lamar YMCA.

1977:
Newbold Room and Metro Offices are built and opened as a result of the Newbold Family's $15,000 gift.  Southeast YMCA is organized and ten acres of land located on Old Hammond Highway are purchased on December 21 for $200,000.

1978:
Southeast YMCA (C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA) receives its Branch Charter.

1979:
Camp Singing Waters sells. A $1.5 million Capital Funds Drive Campaign is held and $1,524,000 is secured in pledges. Southeast branch name is changed to C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA in memory of C. B. “Doc” Pennington’s son.

1980:
First phase of C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA construction is completed and dedicated with the opening of their new outdoor pool in July.

1981:
Refurbished Lamar YMCA dressing rooms cost $117,000. Fred McCord retires. Clark Mitchell hired as Chief Executive Officer. C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA office and administrative building opens. C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA and Charles W. Lamar Jr. YMCA receive $1.5 Million in Capital Improvements. A. C. Lewis YMCA in planning stages for a 2,755 square foot fitness center. Baranco Clark YMCA plans a $40,000 renovation project. C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA receives an additional $200,000 from the Pennington family to complete the second phase of construction. YMCA Heritage Club has a $53,000 balance. Membership is 12,000 units.

1983:
C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA gym opens. A. C. Lewis YMCA remodeled $1,000,000 opens on January 23. The dedication took place on March 20. The 2nd Annual “Great Day” has a $30,000 Membership Goal. Metro offices move to the A. C. Lewis YMCA. The A. C. Lewis YMCA has fire damage in September. The YMCA of the Capital Area helps launch the Lafayette YMCA.

1984:     
A.C. Lewis YMCA renovations finish and it reopens in June. The rebuilding cost following fire is $1,113,000.

1986:
Annual Meeting is called “Annual Reception”. A. C. Lewis YMCA purchases a 36 passenger bus to expand after school care services.  In June, C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA converts the meeting room into a Nautilus room. City-Wide memberships are introduced: $80 joining fee and $40 monthly. First sessions of summer camp start June 2- with 760-768 campers daily at six locations. 202 of those campers are on scholarship- $25 sponsors a child for one week of camp. Counselor In Training Program begins with 151 Youth Jr. Leaders helping with Summer Camp. From November through December the Y converts to computer automation at all of the YMCA locations.

1987: January celebrates 70 years of progress. Senior membership is $10. Governor Edwards hosts Youth and Government program from February 19-21 with 900 participants. The YMCA provides $100,000 in scholarships to more than 10,000 people. Gerry Stoval is campaign chairman. First state-wide Model United Nations Assembly is held May 2 and 3 at the Baton Rouge Hilton. Spring Sports has 124 teams, 2228 youth and 200 coaches. A. C. Lewis YMCA hosts the Youth Center Dedication. 

1988:
Lamar YMCA is sold. The first session of Splash is held May 30-June 3 five, 45 minute lessons for ages 6-14, 280 people participate. Baranco Clark YMCA is remodeled and a ribbon cutting is held November 11. Also in November, the Y institutes a city-wide, single tier membership plan. C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA Latch-Key building is completed. A. C. Lewis YMCA adds aerobic room. Lou Parsons, YMCA Marketing and Public Relations Director accepts a position in Mobile Alabama. Pat Hanchey becomes new Marketing Director. First ever General Assembly of YUSA is held in Boston, and 12 YMCA representatives attend the event.  Seven teams participate in the corporate cup 5K. 

Campaign goals:
BC $10,000 – actual $11,642
ACL $$15,000- actual $18,284
CBP $12,000
Metro $12,000

1989:
A. C. Lewis YMCA is remodeled. Baranco Clark YMCA expands its parking lot. 1100 teens participate in Youth and Government program. Model United Nations has 112 participants. YMCA of the Capital Area is one of six Ys across the country that participated in Model United Nations. The YMCA of the Capital Area adopts new mission statement: Our Mission: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit mind and body for all.

1990:
In October, the C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA clears the land behind the building for new sports fields.

1991:
Black Achievers Program begins at Baranco Clark YMCA, 100 achievers are honored. 900 children participate in summer camp. The C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA also expands its parking lot.  Gerry Lane Enterprises became the official sponsor for YMCA youth Sports.

1992:    
A.C. Lewis YMCA membership office is constructed in February. Youth Legislature turns 30. C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA receives repairs to the youth building, slab at picnic area, copier and nautilus equipment.

1993:
The Baranco Clark YMCA becomes air conditioned in April. The new Southside Extension is authorized by Metropolitan Board in September. The first ever YMCA Family night is held at Alex Box Stadium. A. C. Lewis YMCA introduces Masters Swimming Program. 

1994:
YMCA computer networking begins in February and the A. C. Lewis YMCA has its outdoor pool filter replaced in March.

1995:
The C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA expansion is completed in September. A. C. Lewis YMCA also adds Cybex equipment. The Southside Extension is chartered with National YMCA as the Paula G. Manship YMCA in December.

1997:
In April, Bob Jacobs becomes new CEO. New Paula G. Manship YMCA opens on June 28, and a ribbon cutting is held on October 14. Baranco Clark YMCA hosts National Black Achievers Conference. C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA purchases two new vans.

1998:
C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA remodels outdoor pool and installs lights on the sports fields in March.  Daniel B. Heard Highland Club for teens opens at Paula G. Manship YMCA, along with a 2nd pool, ropes course and pavilion. A. C. Lewis YMCA opens preschool, adds Fitlinxx program, retools one racquetball court, creates family fitness center and adds teen activity area. The Baranco Clark YMCA hosts the Booby Phills Inaugural Golf Tournament and the National Black Achievers Conference. On November 1, the Heart and Fitness Center, located on Perkins Road, becomes the Southside YMCA. The State also collaborates with YMCA to have facility on 3rd and Main Street parking garage, thus the Capitol Park YMCA.

1999:
YMCA Cornerstone Club unveils Endowment Program. Charles Lamar III provides a gift to name the Capitol Park YMCA the Charles W. Lamar Jr. YMCA at Capitol Park. Paula G. Manship YMCA sports complex opens in April. The YMCA of the Capital Area is on the web at www.ymcabatonrouge.org. Fitlinxx programs are added to Southside YMCA and C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA.

2000:
Lamar Dixon YMCA lease is signed on April 24.

2001:
Charles W. Lamar Jr. YMCA at Capitol Park opens on January 29. The Lamar Dixon YMCA in Gonzales opens facility as a result of a generous gift from Mary Lee and Bill Dixon. Lease is one dollar per year. Property and building for Southside YMCA are purchased.

2002:
Chief Financial Officer is hired for Metro Office.  Kids Fit program is started to target youth at risk for obesity. Ground is broken for Lamar Tennis Center on the campus of the Paula G. Manship YMCA.

2003:
Baranco Clark YMCA opens a twelve-station computer lab thanks to a gift from the Southern Women Action Network Organization. The new Lamar Tennis Center, a twenty court complex, opens on the Paula G. Manship YMCA campus. C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA adds 4,500 square foot wellness center expansion. Charles W. Lamar Jr. YMCA adds 3,800 square foot expansion to include nursey, spinning room and free weight room.

2004:
Dow Chemical provides a $1,000,000.00 grant toward the new Westside YMCA to be built in Addis. Charles W. Lamar Jr. YMCA audio-visual stadium group cycling room was completed in November.

2005:
Lamar Dixon YMCA opens as a shelter for Katrina victims.

2006:
Dow Westside YMCA opens in Addis.

2007:
YMCA/BREC Aquatic Partnership with Brook, Gus Young and Howell Parks.  Swim lessons and open swim are managed by YMCA.

2008:
Richard Preis donates the land for Howell Place YMCA valued at $900,000 and the YMCA raises $1.9 million for the new building.  BP donates $45,000 to fund computer labs at Baranco-Clark YMCA, A.C. Lewis YMCA and C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA.  On December 31, the Lamar Dixon YMCA closes. Renovations to Baranco Clark YMCA, A. C. Lewis YMCA, Paula G. Manship YMCA and C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA are complete.

2009:
Ground is broken at the YMCA at Howell Place.

2010:
Baranco Clark YMCA receives a new playground. YMCA summer campers set a world record for the world’s largest shoulder massage with 725 participants.  YUSA rebranding is implemented in October. YMCA at Howell Place, now ExxonMobil YMCA, opens December 15.

2011: YMCA offers Enhanced Fitness Program for seniors. Baranco Clark YMCA receives solar powered shade pavilion in March. Southside YMCA completes renovations. ActivTrax fitness system is installed. MY Y communication system is launched. “Beyond The Green” golf tournament is held in October.

2012:
Ground is broken at the Americana YMCA in Zachary. Darkness to Light Child Abuse Prevention program is launched in September.

2013:
Americana YMCA opens on August 12.

2016:
The YMCA of the Capital Area was one of ten YMCAs across the country to launch a new STEM program. In August, the C. B. Pennington Jr. YMCA flooded with 3 ½ feet of water during the “great flood”.

2017:
The YMCA of the capital area celebrates 100 years!

ymcabr.org