The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), founded in England in 1844, made its way to the United States in the 1850s. By the turn of the century, many American cities boasted YMCA facilities providing reasonable accommodations and physical fitness opportunities for young men. Montana was also part of this movement. By the early twentieth century, Billings, Kalispell, and Miles City had YMCA facilities. Bozeman wanted to follow suit and the community began to explore its options. Montana YMCA secretary Charles Puehler, recognizing Bozeman’s interest, arranged for the state convention to be held here in 1913. The building fund committees that formed at the meetings quickly reached their $65,000 goal. The Bozeman YMCA then formally organized on November 5, 1913, and groundbreaking for the new building took place in 1914. Designed by local architect Fred. F. Willson, the facility opened to the public in 1915. It was fully equipped and furnished thanks to an additional $1,500 donated by brothers Nelson and Byron Story. Decorative brickwork and a striking covered entry highlight the handsome building. The original Mission style interior included built-in seating in the lobby, 39 dormitory rooms that rented for an average of $10 a month, a white-tiled swimming pool, and one of state’s largest gymnasiums encircled by a banked cork running track. The building served as the YMCA until its conversion to the Boulevard Apartments in the early 1980s. Today it exemplifies the preservation of a significant community resource and its adaptive reuse.

Images

Bozeman YMCA
Bozeman YMCA Bozeman YMCA. Front to side view of the building, facing south to southwest near the intersection of West Babcock Street and South Tracy Avenue. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Patricia Bick Date: Apr. 1987

Location

6 West Babcock Street, Bozeman, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Bozeman YMCA,” Historic Montana, accessed May 25, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/580.