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Another Sign - the YMCA of Saginaw 1960 Building

“The new $1.5 million Saginaw YMCA was a step closer to reality as groundbreaking ceremonies were held at the Rust-Fordney site this morning and giant pile-driving machines began to hammer the first of 800 foundation piles into the ground.”

“The project has been on the drawing board since 1944 and plans have been revised four times during that time. The new building, when completed, will be more than double the size of the present Y on North Michigan.” - The Saginaw News, September 21, 1955

During the Great Depression and World War II, the YMCA of Saginaw adapted to serve the community and by the early 1940s had outgrown its 1911 home. In 1948, the organization adopted a six-year development plan. However, it would take over a decade to raise funds to complete a new, modern facility at 1915 Fordney Street. (For a history of the 1911 building, see our post of February 25 ( )

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in September 1955 and the shell of the building erected. However, in order to complete construction, it took five years of fundraising campaigns to raise $2.7 million through 7,000 individual donations.

In his dedication address on September 11, 1960, Wilber M. Brucker, Secretary of the Army, former Governor of Michigan, and former Board Member of the YMCA of Saginaw stated: “The old YMCA building at Michigan and Ames was dedicated 48 years ago today. ‘We dreamed of the day when we would have a Y big enough to serve metropolitan Saginaw,” he said. He described the new building as ‘nothing short of a dream coming true." - The Saginaw News, September 12, 1960 During the ceremony, the organization’s board president, E.B. Morley Sr., noted that the completion of the facility was the “result of years of careful planning, hard work, and even sacrifice. This product is worth it all.”

Over the past six decades, the YMCA’s Fordney Street building has had numerous additions and alterations – including the removal of a tower that once provided dormitory-style housing. The observant visitor will still find numerous details that connect us to a building that was proclaimed as one of the five finest YMCAs in the United States. The building’s adaptations reminded us of Mr. Morley’s comments during the dedication when he noted that the building was only a tool. The Castle Museum of Saginaw County History’s collection includes the original drawings for the building designed by Saginaw architects Frantz and Spence. The museum preserves a collection of YMCA photographs.

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