AMERICA'S FIRST YMCA FOUNDED 165 YEARS AGO TODAY
Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) 165 years ago today, December 29, 1851, the first Young Men's Christian Association or YMCA in the United States was founded here in Boston by Captain Thomas V. Sullivan*.
Captain Sullivan, a marine missionary, sought to provide a "home away from home" for young sailors on leave in the city. The YMCA, today an organization of 57 million members, was founded in London by George Williams in 1844. The purpose of the original organization was to help young Christian men develop "bodies, minds and spirits."
Captain Sullivan set up his YMCA in the Old South Church in Boston. By 1853, the Boston YMCA had 1500 members who paid annual membership fees to use the facilities and services of the association. None of the American based YMCAs were housed in buildings specifically built for the YMCA until the first was built in Baltimore in 1859.
In 1895, the Evening Institute of the Boston YMCA, predecessor to Northeastern University, was established. Since 1913, the Boston YMCA has been located on Huntington Avenue.
*Captain Thomas V. Sullivan (1800-1859) was born in Boston and became a sea-whaling captain. He was shipwrecked in the Antarctic & attacked by pirates off the coast of Brazil. By the time he was 33, the Captain had made a fortune and lost it. In his retirement as a lay minister of the Baptist Church he founded the first American YMCA.
"Seaman Extraordinary," by Leonard M. Snyder
"Thomas Sullivan-Founder of the 1st YMCA in U.S.," YMCA Spiritual Legacy Series, www.S3.amazonaws.com/