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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

11. Social and political organizations,   pp. 189-207


Page 203

organization made it through those tough economic times and flourished after World War II.
(YMCA Janesville Wisconsin Golden Anniversary 1892-1942, RCHS files)
Around 1969, the YMCA remodeled its old building and constructed a large addition for its
recreational programs. By this time, the YMCA had changed its emphasis to a public
recreational facility; now it developed indoor recreational facilities that rivaled the best
private health clubs of larger cities, adding a steam room, handball courts, Olympic-sized
swimming pool, and exercise rooms. Recently, the YMCA has joined with the local Boys and
Girls Club to build a new joint facility to serve both organizations.
The YMCA buildings in Janesville are potentially individually eligible for the National
Register of Historic Places for their association with the development of the YMCA program in
the city.
The YMCA was an important social welfare organization in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries, helping young men lead wholesome and productive lives. The first YMCA
building at 402 W. Milwaukee St. has been remodeled, but enough of the building's historic
appearance is still extant, making the building a contributing resource in the West Milwaukee
Street Historic District. The current YMCA building at 54 S. Franklin St. has a higher degree
of historic integrity; its modem addition does not overwhelm the historic part of the building.
It was also listed as a contributing resource in the West Milwaukee Street Historic District.
Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)
Two organizations in England were the origin for the international YWCA. These two women's
groups established their organizations in the mid-1800s to provide working women with
spiritual improvement, housing, and other social services. A similar group was founded in New
York City in 1858. The organizations quickly grew in the United States and Europe until they
joined forces during the late nineteenth century. In 1877, the International Conference of
Women's Christian Associations was formed, and by 1894, the International YWCA was
established. ("YW Marks 50th Anniversary Monday"1972:9)
In 1905, a group of prominent Janesville women met at the home of Miss Sue Jeffris to form a
YWCA. At the time, however, the national YWCA would not establish a local group in a
community of less than 25,000 people. Eventually, in 1921, local organizations, including
women's organizations in Janesville, succeeded in forming a YWCA in the city. It was first
located in the Janesville Gazette building (not extant). Then in 1928, a local woman donated
her home to the YWCA for its new headquarters. The organization sold that home and
purchased a more suitable property for a new YWCA building at 101 S. Main St. (not extant).
("Public is Urged to Attend YWCA 'Housewarming' All This Week" RCHS files; "YWCA
Votes to Buy Hough Home; Will Move June 1," RCHS files)
In 1953, the YWCA again needed new quarters. James A. Craig, a local businessman and
philanthropist who strongly supported youth activities in the area, acquired the home of the
late Allen P. and Julia Stow Lovejoy at 220 S. Lawrence Ave. and donated it to the YWCA. The
expansive Lovejoy house was remodeled and opened to the public by January 1955. A one-story
wing was added to house a recreation room and snack bar. ("Lovejoy Home to Become YWCA"
RCHS files; "Public to Tour New YWCA Sunday" RCHS files)
Social and Political Organizations
203


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