The Rochester YMCA was organized on October 17, 1867 as a reading room for young men to spend their winter evenings.

In 1906, Rev. Billy Sunday got people to contribute more than $16,000 toward construction of YMCA building in downtown. The building, at the corner of 2nd St. and 1st Ave. S.W., was the center of athletic activity in Rochester from 1909 to the late 1920s. However, it closed on November 19, 1932. The building was sold to Mayo Properties Assoc. and razed in 1938.

New efforts to have another YMCA began in early 1950s. By 1958, many of the YMCA programs were operating in rented or loaned facilities. In 1960, Mayo Foundation donated the Balfour estate property to the YMCA.

The national YWCA organized in 1906. The Rochester YWCA was formed in January 1919 and had various homes.

YMCA & YWCAIn the early 1960s, leaders of the local YMCA and YWCA recognized their respective programs could be enhanced through construction of adequate facilities. A decision was made to conduct a unified campaign to develop a facility that would be shared between the two organizations. The campaign raised $1.2 million. The current building at 709 First Ave. S.W. was built in 1964 and dedicated in 1965. There have been three subsequent expansions.

Until 1986, the YMCA and YWCA shared the facility. In August 1986, the two organizations legally merged to become the Rochester Area Family Y.

In 2001, the Community Youth Mentorship Program merged with the Y and the Y-Pal program to former a new program called Y Mentors.

In 2013, there were 7,167 members; 2,490 participated in swim lessons; 280 children attended summer camp; 25 nonprofit organizations have group memberships to the Y, the Y provided half million in subsidies for group memberships; 374 families received help from the Y's Open Doors Scholarship program to participate in programs.


In 2014-2015, the Y will be celebrating fifty years of service on First Avenue. We would love to hear your stories about how the Y has had a positive impact on you or you family in the past, and we'd love to hear about your hopes and dreams for the YMCA for the next fifty years.   





The following individuals have been Y Members for more than 50 years:
  • Douglas Abrahamson
  • John Brandrup
  • Faye Donadio
  • James Donadio
  • Thomas Harnack
  • Edward Harris
  • Emily Harris
  • Honorable Judge Kevin Lund
  • Lester Horntvedt
  • Charles Kennedy
  • Robert Morse
  • Ruth Oleson
  • Stanley Rathke
  • David Welte
  • Dorothy Willkomm
  • Kenneth Willkomm

Congratulations on supporting the Y and giving back to the community! 


In the 1840s, George Williams left his countryside home, inspired by the promise of the city. Williams was just one of thousands of young men who flocked to London to seek profitable work in the shops and factories. Troubled by the conditions of the city and lack of recreational opportunities, twenty-two year old George along with 11 others founded the Young Men's Christian Association. 


  • In the span of only four years, the YMCA invented two athletic contests destined to be Olympic sports: basketball and volleyball.
  • The Cincinnati YMCA was the first to offer English as a Second Language class for German immigrants in 1856.
  • On February 8, 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was founded with the help of the YMCA.
  • In 1950, YMCA Volunteer Joe Sobek invented racquetball in Greenwich, Connecticut.
  • During WWII, the YMCA, along with five other national voluntary organizations, founded what is known today as the USO.
  • The first national Healthy Kids Day was in 1992.
  • President Ronald Reagan was a YMCA-trained lifeguard in his hometown of Dixon, Illinois.
  • Hallmark Cards was started at a Kansas City, Missouri YMCA by 18 year old Joyce Clyde Hall.
  • Since 1881, there have been seven YMCA logos. The current one was introduced in 2010.