In 1844 twenty-two-year-old George Williams saw a need for young men in London to have a place of refuge during the Industrial Revolution. Along with 11 friends, Williams formed the Young Men’s Christian Association. The YMCA was a place where young men could gather for Bible study and prayer, while avoiding the perilous influences of life on the streets.
On December 29th, 1851, retired sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan formed the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts. Sullivan shared in Williams’ vision of a place for the young men of Boston to have a “home away from home”. From that point, the YMCA began forming across the United States.
In March of 1880, a group of men gathered to discuss the potential for a YMCA to be formed in East Liverpool, Ohio. By the fall of 1880, a YMCA would open on 4th Street in Downtown East Liverpool and on June 19th, 1891, the Young Men’s Christian Association of East Liverpool became incorporated. This event was just one of many that have helped shape the rich history of the East Liverpool YMCA.
With the continuing growth in membership, the YMCA needed a permanent location, as it had been located in several different buildings in the downtown area. In 1912, thanks to generous contributions from members of the East Liverpool community, the YMCA began construction on a new permanent location. Starting on February 27th, 1914 the East Liverpool YMCA began servicing the tri-state area from its new Fourth Street location.
For decades to come, hundreds of thousands of area residents would take advantage of the services provided by the YMCA.
With the start of a new century, the YMCA began to grow again. In the year 2003, the East Liverpool YMCA would move once again to its current location at the Memorial Auditorium. Along with a location change for the East Liverpool YMCA, an additional YMCA branch was constructed in Calcutta, Ohio to house a new state of the art facility. Over the next 10 years, YMCA branches were established at St. John Arena in Steubenville, OH; Eastern Gateway Community College located in Steubenville; as well as a location in Toronto, Ohio. All 5 of these YMCA locations have come to form the Ohio Valley YMCA.