The first Springfield Young Men's Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.)
was established in 1888 and received its charter in 1889. A rented
building on College Street near Campbell provided a reading room,
small gymnasium and showers. The Y.M.C.A. quickly outgrew this location
and in 1900, $7,000 was raised and a new building went up at the
corner of St. Louis Street and Jefferson Avenue. The cost of the
attractive three-story red brick building was $23,000.
The lot the Y.M.C.A. had been on had previously been the site of
a grain elevator, which burned circa 1883 or 1884. It had been used
as a dance hall in its later years.
On March 20, 1911, the building caught fire and could not be saved
because the ladders of the southside fire department could not reach
the third floor. There had been talk of selling the building and
building another structure on a larger lot, so the fire hurried
this plan along.
In 1912 the lot where the Y.M.C.A. burned was sold to Otis L. Milligan,
president of Milligan's Wholesale Grocery, for $30,000. Of the $30,000,
$15,000 was used by the Y.M.C.A. to buy a lot on South Jefferson
Street to build a new Y.M.C.A. The remaining $15,000, plus $18,000
in fire insurance money, was used to build the new building.