ywca Minneapolis


YWCA Minneapolis 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. 

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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.

1974: The YWCA demolishes original building at 1130 Nicollet Avenue. Work begins on its replacement.

1976: Staff moves into new building at 1130 Nicollet Avenue. The dedication of the new building is held on April 19, and Senator Hubert Humphrey reads the proclamation.

1979: YWCA Minneapolis' pool is named "Best in Twin Cities."

1986: The West High gym is converted into the Uptown YWCA. The facility opens in 1987.

1989: YWCA Minneapolis' Phillips Children's Center opens to meet the childcare needs of the Phillips community.

1990: The YWCA sells Lyman Lodge.

2000: The YWCA Midtown building opens.

2006: The YWCA Children's Center at Abbott Northwestern opens.

Today: YWCA Minneapolis continues its work toward empowering women and girls and eliminating racism.