Looking south/southeast from the north side of W. Chapel Hill St.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)
Copyright Sanborn Fire Insurance Company
The Durham chapter of the YWCA was established in 1920 at 303 1/2 West Main St. (the Sparger Building,) upstairs from the Charles Department Store. Mrs. IF Hill was at the forefront of the drive to establish the organization, starting with a group of women and $100 associated with a "Council of Defense" during the First World War. The initial organization was affiliated with the nearest branch, in Richmond, VA. The national organization set an initial fundraising goal of $20,000; the local organization raised $24,000 in four days.
Classes were established, and meals were served twice a day. The group focused on substandard housing and living conditions in the community as their initial community outreach.
Interestingly, the constitution specified that the organization needed to have a Board of Trustees consisting of 5 men and 2 women. I suppose that quick $24,000 came with strings attached.
The centennial edition of the Herald gives partial credit to the organization for the formation of the Harriet Tubman YWCA on Fayetteville St., formed in 1922.
By 1923, the group's needs had clearly outgrown the building. Mrs. JC Angier was chair of a fundraising campaign to establish permanent quarters for the group.\
Open land at the southeast corner of South Gregson and West Chapel Hill Sts. was donated by John Sprunt Hill; ground was broken for the new Georgian style building in September 1926.
Another view, below, from the late 1940s or early 1950s. In looking at the roofline, it appears there may have been a wing added to the east side.
Two of the large houses to the east of this house (pre-1913) were torn down in the early 1950s for a gas station.
Per the Herald in 1953 - and written with seemingly typical for the time purposeful vagueness:
"Again in 1950-51, to meet the needs of its advancing program, the YWCA conducted a building campaign for $275,000, headed by Marvin Fowler and Eugene Carlton and work began on a new building for the Branch Y and a new wing for the Central Association in July of 1952. These buildings will reach completion in a few months and will afford the association more opportunities to answer ever-present needs...."
The article later refers to the Central Branch - but never defines the Central Association, the Central Branch, or the Branch Y. So I'm not sure if there was a new YWCA built in 1952-3, or an addition added to the West Chapel Hill St. building, or both. It does appear that, by the late 1950s, an addition had been built on the south side of the building at West Chapel Hill St.
Looking southwest from South Duke and West Chapel Hill, April 1956 - the Y can be seen down the block.
This service station was replaced with the Home Security Life Insurance Company building (current police department) in 1957.. It and the YWCA co-existed for some period of time, as can be seen on this aerial view from 1959. (You can see the L-shaped building just to the left of the sizeable insurance building).
It was still there after the Freeway had been gouged through just to the west.
From Gregson and the Freeway, looking northeast, 1967
(Courtesy Herald Sun)
It's now (2006) a parking lot.
I don't know when the YWCA was torn down, but it appears to have been around 1970. I do know that the trees that were once in front of the building were still here until about 5 years ago (and huge at that point), when the police department decided to cut them down. I guess because this corner wasn't ugly enough. The irregular grass in front was to accommodate these trees. The small walkway to the front entrance of the Y is still there, but that's about it.