The Elmira YWCA was incorporated on Jan. 2, 1915 with just under 600 members. At that time their living quarters were located in a large house at 559 Maple Avenue which was once the home of New York State Governor, Lucius Robinson. By 1920, the YW was in search of a newer centralized downtown location and purchased the Harriet Rathbone residence at 221 Lake Street. A picture of the Rathbone Home appears below as it looked when the Elmira YW organization's headquarters was located there.
Until the early 1930s, Gray Street was a dead-end at Baldwin Street. When the city decided to extend the street to Lake, for a time, it appeared that the YW would lose its home to the wrecking ball, but the house was moved to face onto the new Gray Street extension and the adjoining Stephen Arnot house at 211 Lake Street was acquired. So the YW had locations on both streets which they later united with a gym. The Gray St. House was "The Residence" and the Lake Street House was "The Club House."
photo courtesy of Bill Cook family
Through the Forties and early Fifties, membership grew and eventually these buildings were demolished to accommodate the new structure that we see today at the corner of Lake and Gray. The neat little yellow-orange brick building, which even houses the YW's swimming pool, was dedicated on May 18, 1952.
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