Skip to main content

History

A Rich History

YWCA Minneapolis is a nonprofit organization founded in 1891 as a member of YWCA USA, the oldest and largest multicultural organization in the world. We have a long and proud history, pursuing our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women that continues today. Today we serve over 30,000 people each year through award-winning programs, classes and workshops.

On a Mission for 125 Years

Timeline: 1891 - Present

1890

State YWCA holds convention in Minneapolis. Minneapolis women stress a need for meeting place, especially during the lunch hour.

1891

The first YWCA Minneapolis is established on a second-story flat above a store on 45 South 8th Street. A lunchroom and rest areas are provided.

1892

The YWCA moves to 4th Street South to a location on the second floor, above a store.

1893

The YWCA relocates to 808 Nicollet Mall. The first floor contains a gymnasium and a dressing room. The women's vigorous exercise is halted when a burly Minneapolis policeman comes to the door to see what is shaking the building.

1898

The Traveler's Aid program begins. Traveler's Aid employees go to the train stations to meet and help women coming to Minneapolis from rural areas. YWCA moves to 521 1st Avenue South. Facilities include a gymnasium. The membership total is 738. The cafeteria serves between 500-700 people daily.

1900

W.S. Benton secretly buys a plot of land on South 7th Street to donate to the YWCA.

1903

The YWCA moves to the first Minneapolis building owned and operated by women, at 89 South 7th Street. The building is open 24 hours a day.

1911

Mrs. W.S. Benton, YWCA President, raises $10,000 to build a swimming pool. She does this despite the public opinion that "the girls could do very well without one."

1918

Mr. Fredrick W. Lyman donates his summer home on Lake Minnetonka, along with all the furniture in the house, to the YWCA. The camp is named "Elizabeth Lyman Lodge" after Mr. Lyman's late wife.

1929

YWCA opens at 1130 Nicollet Avenue. Annual membership dues are $1.00 for adults and $.50 for children, and 25 transient rooms were available for $1.00 a day.

1942

The first African-American member is elected to the board of YWCA Minneapolis.

1945

The YWCA offers the first racially integrated pool in the Twin Cities.

1970

The YWCA begins providing pregnancy prevention programming for teens.

1970

The YWCA holds a three-day seminar at Lyman Lodge with the purpose of combating racism.

1973

The camping program ends and Lyman Lodge becomes a year-round program and retreat center.

1973

The estate of Ruth Hawkins gives $100,000 to the YWCA. The Ruth Hawkins Center (North Commons) opens in North Minneapolis and focuses on eliminating racism through programs that bring the community together.