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For over 150 years, the YMCA has been a pioneering force in the United States. In 1851, Boston sea captain and missionary Thomas Valentine Sullivan led the formation of the first US YMCA in Boston. Within a year, more associations began springing up from as far away as Detroit.
The Marietta Family YMCA was started in 1902 by a gift of land from the Cisler family. This donation led to the original location of the YMCA on Second Street just behind the current Washington County courthouse. It was a center for community youth activity from daylight to dark with new indoor pool, gym, recreation room, and residence rooms for overnight care for adults.
Known as the Young Men's Christian Association of Marietta at the time, it was primarily a place for men to gather for business meetings during the day and exercise after work. After school activities and weekend gatherings for youth were also primary activities in the new YMCA. Women were also allowed especially to help with the youth programs, but had to meet at 6:00am Monday through Friday for their exercise and lap swimming in the pool. Quite a contrast to the Marietta Family YMCA of today with more female members than male.
As the community continued to grow through the 40's and 50's, the Marietta Family YMCA soon outgrew its Second Street location and plans began to develop in the late 40's to build a new Marietta Family YMCA at the current location on Seventh Street. As a result of the growth and the generous gift of one of Marietta's long time residents George Light, 1953 brought the construction of our present YMCA.
What a location! Two blocks from the then heart of education for Marietta: the junior high and high school. Dances, parties, after school activities, and more made the YMCA the hub of activity for the youth of Marietta. But wait, aren't we missing something? What about swimming, basketball, floor hockey, and dressing rooms? Let's fast forward to 1964. More kids, more adults (men and women), more needs, more programs, and no space. With all these additional needs a new addition that included a 6 lane pool with a diving tank, a gym, and locker rooms were added to compliment the original front structure of the YMCA.
Since our opening in 1902, the Marietta Family YMCA has nurtured the healthy development of children and teens, while strengthening families and this community.
One out of every three Americans report being a YMCA member at some point in life, but YMCA has really touched nearly every American's life. The games of basketball and volleyball were both invented at YMCAs. YMCAs have also pioneered camping, public libraries, night schools, and teaching English as a second language.
More than 2,400 neighborhood YMCAs today serve more than 17.5 million members in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. YMCA membership has doubled since 1974. Collectively, YMCAs are the largest not-for-profit organizations in the nation and benefit from the leadership of more than 600,000 volunteers.