CLEARFIELD – Incorporated Feb. 10, 1903 for the improvement of the spiritual, mental, social and physical condition of young men by the support and maintenance of lecture rooms, libraries, reading rooms, religious and social meetings, gymnasiums and such means and services, as may conduce to the accomplishment of that object, according to the general rules of the State YMCA of Pennsylvania, and from that the Clearfield YMCA was born.
Although the YMCA was incorporated in 1903, there are earlier mentions of a YMCA in Clearfield, dating back to 1872 in the Pennsylvania State YMCA history.
On the recommendation of the State YMCA Secretary, Stephen W. Smith was the first general secretary of the Clearfield YMCA. He arrived by stage coach coming from Lock Haven, Pa. The first president of the YMCA was William D. Bigler, a son of Gov. Bigler (1902-1906).
The YMCA started on the second floor in the old Mossop Building with limited physical equipment and meeting rooms. This is now the Ritz Theater.
In 1904, the YMCA moved to its current location at 21 N. Second St., by purchasing the residence of John F. Weaver and remodeling it to include a gym, two bowling alleys, nine dormitory rooms, kitchen, meeting rooms and a barber shop.
In order to cover the remodeling expenses, the directors sold 30 feet of frontage upon which a hardware store was built.
In 1921, the directors conducted a campaign to build a swimming pool and remodel the gymnasium. Another campaign was conducted three years later for the purpose of providing two years of operating expenses.
In 1939, the dormitory rooms were abandoned in favor of four bowling alleys. More campaigns were successfully completed each time to improve the YMCA.
On a Sunday afternoon in March of 1959, an unforeseen event intervened to help shape the history of the Clearfield YMCA, a structure fire irreparably damaged the building.
The directors moved with dispatch and conducted another successful campaign to rebuild the YMCA to better serve the community.
The community has always supported the YMCA from its beginning to the current day, said Don Herres, current executive director. “The YMCA is indebted to all the Clearfield individuals and businesses that have made the facilities and services possible.”
In 1978, another floor was added to the YMCA, which would house three racquetball courts and the basement would also be renovated.
As facilities age, yet another campaign would need to be conducted. This time the YMCA would need to raise the most money ever in its history to build a new swimming pool, gymnasium, locker rooms, meeting room, lobby and renovate other areas of the existing building.
Again, the YMCA was successful in 2006, raising enough to complete the new addition. After purchasing properties for the expansion, bidding out contracts and a year of construction, another addition was completed in June of 2010.
The YMCA facilities over the years have only provided space for the various programs and services that have helped to develop today’s leaders, Herres said.
“The YMCA has gone from barbershops to gymnasiums, dormitories to bowling alleys, and checkerboards to treadmills,” he said. “It continues to react to community needs, always looking at how to better serve those with programs and facilities.
“The YMCA is an organization of loyal members who accept varying degrees of responsibility for the association.”
The community is invited to visit the YMCA this month where vintage photos and memorabilia will be on display.
Also, those wishing to join the YMCA can take advantage of a special heritage month offer, Herres said. “Stop in your Clearfield YMCA this month and see all it has to offer for your family. The YMCA is still going strong after 118 years.”