Our first name was The Mankato Young Men’s Christian Association. It was formed in 1874 by a few men from Centenary Methodist Church, First Baptist Church and The First Presbyterian Church.
That group disbanded and reorganized nine years later in 1892. Meeting rooms were rented at 313 South Front Street in 42 of 57
what’s now the open court area next to the Intergovernmental Center in Mankato Place. The decision was made in 1903 to construct a modern and exclusive YMCA facility.
A fund drive was completed to cover the estimated cost and in 1905 the new facility was dedicated on corner of Cherry and Second Streets. The Building On the Corner, as it was dubbed, had a pool, a gym and some athletic equipment. The YMCA was a hub for young men and boys during The Depression and World War II years. The building was used to full capacity.
In 1957 the building and site were sold to the Greyhound Bus Company. The Oscar W. Schmidt residence was purchased in 1958 from the profits of the sale. 111 Park Lane became the next home address to the YMCA. 1961-62 marked another fundraising effort. $110,000 was raised for an addition to the Schmidt house, a regulation size swimming pool, a gym, one handball court and locker rooms. The name Mankato Family YMCA was adopted in 1962. Also in that year, YMCA membership was expanded to include women and families.
Growth exploded and by 1970 the facility and programs were again at full capacity. The next fundraising campaign raised $660,000 and in 1972, with construction complete, the YMCA had four regulation size handball/racquetball courts, an exercise room, a shallow water swimming pool and additional office space. A fund drive in 1976 netted $330,000 in pledges that enabled the payment of the mortgage and nearly $75,000 added to the Endowment Fund.
From 1975 to 1985 the Y continued a healthy growth in membership and programs as well as a stable financial condition. In 1987 approximately $1.2 million was raised to construct a second gym and add additional locker room space.
A $300,000 fundraiser in 1992 launched the next project that included remodeling of existing space into our Life Center & Free Weight Room, childcare and preschool program space.
In 1999 more than 250 volunteers raised funds for a year and a half for the largest expansion project to date. This $4.8 million project transformed the YMCA into a state-of the-art facility in 2001. When the construction was complete we had a newly renovated swimming pool and gym, the Taylor Family Aquatic Center, a new entrance, lobby and expanded parking. We doubled the size of the Life Center, added the Aerobic, Cycling and Mind/Body Studios and Pepsi Cube Recreation Center plus more than tripled the size of our drop in childcare space.
Today, the Y continues to grow in membership. Once a men’s-only club, the Y today is reflective of the greater Mankato area in our diverse membership, and service to the community. As a result, we’re working toward renovating and remodeling the facility to accommodate demand while looking toward establishing a presence on the east side of Mankato. All these years later, we’re continuing to grow up.