The Old Y

The former YMCA building at George and Murray Streets has been sitting mostly empty since 2006.  I've been inside only a few times during the past decade to view Spark photo exhibits.  It has sat unchanged but empty, a keeper of endless memories for those of us who grew up here and enjoyed the many facilities it provided our community.  Talk of refurbishment had been going on for so long it was almost a shock to see the partial demolition that is now happening.
The original structure was built in 1896, officially opening in May of 1897.  Designed by Peterborough architect William Blackwell, the YMCA was built by funds bequeathed from Charlotte Nicholls, and further subsidized by George Cox.  Major additions occurred in 1930, and modern facilities continued to be added in the 1960s and 70s.

The original 1896 exterior is largely being left intact.  The Murray Street side of the 1930 addition has been completely demolished, while the George Street side has been entirely gutted.  The 1960s and more recent portions are mostly gone, save for some structural steel which may be being incorporated into the new building.

What  is being saved is historically and aesthetically significant.  The 1960s addition was only functional for roughly forty years, and in the end it was outdated and had little if any architectural merit.

I love that the best of this building is being saved.  The only things I truly mourn are the glorious pools, for I learned to swim here.  The one thing I find a shame is that the building's interior beauty was built for and open to the community, but now it is privately owned, and it will only be enjoyed by a privileged few.  Of course, money built it, and money is preserving it.


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