The history of the Bath Area Family YMCA had its beginnings in May 1856 at the Central Church in Bath, Maine (now the Chocolate Church). We are one of the oldest YMCAs in the country. The first meetings consisted of religious exercises, Bible classes, debates, lectures and essay readings. Meetings were held at various locations in the city, primarily churches. In 1894 the YMCA moved to its own building on Summer Street. The building was financed by Galen Moses, who was president of the Association at the time.
Basketball was the primary activity at the YMCA for many years. All of the basketball in town was played at the Y until a gym was added at the high school. Other programs included roller skating, bowling, pool and volleyball. The Y also had social and service clubs as well as a hotel. It wasn’t until 1962 that the swimming pool was added to the Y facility. A new addition of a larger gym and fitness room was completed in 1973.
Through all of the changes over the past 150+ years, the most important component of the Y has been its members. They are the ones who have shaped the Y to what it is now—a integral part of the community.
We’ve come a long way since the first meeting of the Bath Young Men’s Christian Association on May 30, 1856 in the vestry of Central Church (now the Chocolate Church). One hundred fifty years later, the Bath Area Family YMCA is still serving the community, still helping youth and still providing activities and services to everyone in the area, regardless of one’s ability to pay.
When the Association started over 150 years ago, the town of Bath was much smaller, but the needs of its residents were similar to those of today. The Y provided a safe place where youth could go, where character and values were instilled. The services have changed…from essay readings to basketball games, from prayer meetings to child care, from Bible study to yoga, from religious exercises to aquatic exercises. What has remained the same, however, is the commitment of the Y to the community. The willingness to change with the times and offer what the community wants and needs. Volunteers, members and staff working together to create a valuable resource for the community. This is what the Y is about. Building strong kids, strong families, strong communities.
Though change is a certainty in the community and at the Y, one thing will be constant –the Y will continue to proudly serve its members and the community as it has for the past one and one-half centuries.