Blair Hawkins | Charlottesville, Virginia | healingcharlottesville@yahoo.com

McIntire YMCA Is Latest New Fitness Club. Thursday June 8, 2017.

The latest iteration of the YMCA is set to open June 30 in McIntire Park. Locally the Y has a checkered past shrouded in mystery.

That's why the new Brooks Family YMCA and parent organization Piedmont Family YMCA have no history webpage. The Brooks name was chosen to honor the lead benefactor. There is also a Brooks Family YMCA in Jacksonville, Florida.

The Piedmont Family Y started 1994. The idea of a YMCA in McIntire Park was conceived in 2002. The discussion went public in 2007. The park was donated 1926 as a public golf course possibly as a replacement for the YMCA-Redlands Golf Course. Since then 2 highways and a railroad pass through the park.

A hundred years ago there were 2 YMCA facilities-- Downtown at Market & 2nd NE, southeast corner from Lee Park across from the library. And Madison Hall at the University of Virginia across from the Rotunda. Charlottesville's history has many unusual features, like 2 train stations. Those unfamiliar with the local history describe Charlottesville as a typical southern town or as the hometown they moved from.

Crony Capitalism

Two legitimate fitness clubs sued in 2010 over the discrimination. ACAC and Gold's Gym alleged the City and County illegally favored the YMCA and tax-paying clubs were not allowed to compete. Circuit Judge Cheryl Higgins ruled against the fitness clubs, which appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court. In Jan. 2013 the high court did not rule on the due process/equal protection violation, saying the clubs had no grounds to bring the suit in the first place.

The McIntire Park location was controversial from the first proposal to build it at nearby Charlottesville High in the athletic field adjacent Melbourne Road. Swimming pool priority would go to the high school swim team. The City would donate $1.25 million and a 40-year 4.5-acre lease for $1 a year. The County donated $2 million.

The site was moved to McIntire Park ostensibly because it's the geographic center of local population. No buses connect to McIntire Park. Piedmont Virginia Community College, right off the interstate where buses actually go, offered to donate land. The Y said, no thank you.

In addition to the swim team, the Y appealed to a second interest group across town, the residents of public housing. City Councilor and chair of the urban renewal commission at the time, Kendra Hamilton advocated for the Boys and Girls Club and a new Smith Pool at Buford Middle. Hamilton criticized county residents for using city pools though paying a surcharge and city-county revenue sharing. Hamilton eventually voted against the YMCA.

Timeline of Young Men's Christian Association. (Source unless noted)

  • 1844 June 6. First YMCA is formed by George Williams in London and aims to put Christian principles into practice by developing a healthy "body, mind, and spirit." "Established to provide low-cost housing in a safe Christian environment for rural young men and women journeying to the cities."[2] "It was associated with industrialisation and the movement of young people to cities to work." (Source)
  • 1855. Ninety-nine clubs meet in Paris and form the YMCA Federation.
  • 1857 / 1858. First-in-the-nation University-sponsored YMCA, founded by the pastor of First Baptist Church.
  • 1860. UVA YMCA has 162 members, 50 of whom teach Sunday schools.
  • 1874. "For reasons not clear, the university's YMCA was disbanded in 1874, only to be revived a decade later by Rev. George Petrie, a prominent Presbyterian pastor."
  • 1905. Madison Hall YMCA with athletic field. Becomes Student Union 1933. Facilities include the Dry Dock, a soda fountain. Woodrow Wilson delivered building's dedication (Source). A second source says the UVA YMCA disbanded late 1960s due to lack of interest. It evolved into Masters and Fellows of Madison Hall volunteer organization. Renames and moves to Madison House. Alternative spring break program since 1992. Big Brother / Big Sister. ("The University of Virginia: A Pictorial History" by Susan Tyler Hitchcock. Page 237)
  • 1908. Both of these postcards are postmarked.
  • 1909 to 1927. Downtown YMCA. Source. Jun 23 2017.
  • 1914. YMCA and Redland Club create golf and tennis club at East Market and Meade Avenue, the only marker being Fairway Avenue.
  • 1924 Sep. YMCA denies KKK use of Y facilities. May 21 Provides First Aid stations for Lee Statue unveiling.
  • 1927. YMCA moves and becomes Farmington Country Club. "In time, however, these men acquired more property and erected a clubhouse which apparently became a prime social center until 1927 when the new development at Farmington absorbed this pioneer group."
  • 1980s. YMCA fitness center at location of MACAA on Park Street.
  • 1994. Piedmont Family YMCA forms.
  • 2007 July 9. First joint public hearing for YMCA fitness center and swimming pool in McIntire Park. New YMCA in trouble, new Boys & Girls Club likely: Session invites public input but allows none.
  • 2007 Dec. Council votes 3–2 to approve the 40-year lease. Yes (David Brown, Kevin Lynch, Dave Norris). No (Julian Taliaferro, Kendra Hamilton). (Source)
  • 2013 Jan. 11. "Two YMCA lawsuits dismissed." (Source)
  • 2015 May. Capital campaign is announced.
  • 2017 June 30. First YMCA facility in Charlottesville since 1980s.
  • – Old photos of University of Virginia –



Blair Hawkins | Charlottesville, Virginia | healingcharlottesville@yahoo.com | Résumé | Top