Brainerd’s first YMCA was constructed in 1889. The Northern Pacific Railroad offered to build a YMCA in Brainerd so that the young men of the Railroad and the community would have a wholesome place to spend their leisure time. This building was built in 1887 at the corner of 6th and Front. It included two reading rooms, a lounge, and a gymnasium area. This was one of the first, if not the first gymnasium in Brainerd. It served the Brainerd Community until 1946 when it was torn down. Plans were immediately made to start raising funds for a new building.
In 1953, Brainerd resident Louis Hostager passed away and left $200,000 to be used for the construction of a new YMCA. With this initial gift and through additional donations, $315,000 was raised to build the first phase of the new facility which was completed in 1962.
The new YMCA included the first Olympic size swimming pool in the City of Brainerd. The High School swim team used the pool for several years at 6 a.m. for practice. In 1968 the board of directors entered the second phase of fundraising. A community fund drive was inaugurated to obtain funds to build an addition of a gym, handball courts and additional locker rooms. Some $330,000 was pledged and construction began and was completed in the summer of 1970. This new addition includes a 106 foot x 72 foot gymnasium, two regulation handball courts, an entrance and lobby, exercise area for girls and women and a future locker room for boys and men.In 1998, a 1,300 square foot Wellness Center was built at the site of the original daycare play yard on the west side of the facility.
In 1999, membership and program growth, along with an aging facility prompted staff and board to kick off what led to be a successful $4.5 million dollar capital campaign, the largest this area has ever witnessed. In 2002, the YMCA finished completion of a new aquatic center, fitness studio, Kids Kastle babysitting area, new lobby and administrative offices, Kids Club area, multi-purpose lounge, locker rooms, family changing rooms, renovation of the existing facility and the expansion of the parking lot. Today, the Brainerd Family YMCA boasts one of the premiere facilities in greater Minnesota. The Y employs over 120 staff and 100 volunteers.
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