97-year-old YMCA to undergo $7 million renovation

97-year-old YMCA to undergo $7 million renovation

PITTSBURGH — A 97-year-old Pittsburgh-area YMCA is set to undergo a $7 million renovation that will add more affordable housing units among other things to the facility.

The YMCA on Centre Avenue, built in 1922, was one of the only social, recreational and cultural facilities for African Americans in the region through the 1950s. It was designated a historic building by the city in 1995.

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The renovation plan includes updating and improving 73 housing units, a community space, a kitchen and other spaces for programs and classes. The project will also bring the building into compliance with ADA regulations and will include installation of an elevator. The roof will be replaced, the plumbing will be updated, and there will be new sprinkler and electrical systems.

“Our Y has provided housing in the Hill District for nearly 100 years,” said Kevin Bolding, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. “This is a reinvestment in one of the Pittsburgh communities we call home and an important step in serving the underserved in our city.”

The renovation project is expected to take about 10 months.

Scientist George Washington Carver and activist-author W.E.B. DuBois spoke there and Jackie Robinson bunked at the facility when he played in Pittsburgh. Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie also stayed at the YMCA when he played in local venues.

Roughly 100 years ago, when the YMCA was built:

  • A pound of bacon was $.53
  • A dozen eggs was $.61
  • Fresh milk was $.15 a quart
  • A loaf of bread cost a dime
  • Sugar was $.11 a pound
  • Coffee cost $.43 per pound
  • Bananas were $.32 for a dozen
  • A dozen oranges cost $.53
  • The hourly wage for unskilled workers was $.25

Here’s what the YMCA looked like in 1923 and what it looks like today:

Hill District site of massive new developments