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THE YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION

City of Syracuse

Submitted by Kathy Crowell

Source:  Dwight H. Bruce (ed.), Onondaga's Centennial.  Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. I, pp. 540-541.


This Christian and philanthropic institution was first founded in England in 1844, and in America in 1851, since which date it has become one of the most powerful factors in the country in spreading Christianity, especially among young men.  The association in Syracuse was founded on September 30, 1858; at that time there were only five associations in this State and only sixty in the United States and the British provinces.  During the first few months of its existence meetings of the association were held in the churches.  In March, 1859, rooms were secured in the Pike block, and later on upper floors at No. 16 South Salina street.  The association was incorporated in 1862.  During several years most of the work of the association was devoted to the establishment of mission schools, but later it adopted its legitimate sphere of labor--"a work for young men by young men."  In 1866 it returned to more desirable apartments in the Pike block, and in 1873 when its lease expired, it again moved to its former rooms on Salina street.  In 1875 its first general secretary was chosen in the person of E. D. Ingersol, the work having been previously carried on by a city missionary.  In 1871 new life was inspired in the association and a commodious hall taken and fitted up in the Convention block on East Genesee street.  In 1882 the Woman's Auxiliary was organized, with Mrs. H. L. Duguid, president.  Another offshoot of the association is the Railroad Branch, established in 1879, and in 1880 a similar branch was founded at East Syracuse.
 
 

The parent association long felt the need of a building of its own.  On May 30, 1883, at a conference held at the residence of E. W. Leavenworth, the project of securing such a building assumed definite shape.  Those present who discussed the advisability of attempting a building were State Secretary George Hall, H. B. Chamberlain, W. W. Brown, R. N. Gere, A. C. Chase, H. L. Duguid, Peter Burns and others.  No definite steps were taken until November of that year, when a committee was appointed from the board of managers, consisting of W. S. Peck, James A. Skinner, George C. Sawyer, J. B. Brooks, and A. S. Durston to procure a site.  The result was the purchase of the rectory of St. Paul's church on Warren street.  After a careful canvass sufficient funds were pledged by citizens to erect the proposed building, ground for which was broken October 7, 1884.  On the 15th of November of that year the corner stone was laid by President William A. Duncan, and on January 16, 1886, the fine structure was dedicated.  Its cost was $62,000.


Submitted 18 July 1998