There used to be seven active YMCAs in Detroit. Today, only one, the Boll YMCA downtown (which opened in 2005), still operates. Five of the seven old buildings are either vacant or were demolished. They were multi-story brick structures with ornate interiors. 

JC Reindl of the Detroit Free Press wrote about those old buildings, saying they had “dormitory-style rooms available at low cost.” Around 2,000 men a year stayed the night at the old downtown location. 

An old YMCA (short for Young Men’s Christian Association of Metropolitan Detroit) still standing is the Western Branch YMCA on Clark Avenue in Southwest Detroit. It was designed by local architectural firm Malcomson and Higginbotham and opened in 1928. The 90,000-square-foot building had separate entrances for men and boys. Some neat architectural details include a clay tile roof, glazed brick walls and Pewabic tile inserts.

The YMCA organization closed the Western Branch in 2000, then sold it to notorious property owner Dennis Kefallinos for $500,000. He is looking to sell it for $1.99 million.

Aaron (he/him) believes in telling true stories about real people. He doesn’t think there’s anything better than a crisp fall afternoon at the Detroit Jazz Fest.