A history of service in Bay City

The Young Men’s Christian Association arrived in the United States in 1851 in Boston, MA.  It didn’t take long to spread across the country, as the first YMCA was founded in Bay City in 1885.  Throughout the next century, individuals from all walks of life came to the YMCA in search of refuge, commonalities with others, and a drive to further their individual health and wellness.


The Y was originally founded on Christian principles in response to the needs of a growing and changing society that threatened the preservation of family and values.  Programs and activities were developed to guide and preserve health and wellness in spirit, mind, and body.


In 1937, the Board of Directors of the Y discussed plans to develop plans for building a new Y. Ten years later, in 1947, the former site of Eastern Jr. High was purchased and efforts began to raise money for a new Y. The goal of the Board of Directors was to raise $500,000 in order to construct a new facility.


By 1952, construction of the new facility began. Not only was there a hired crew to do the work, but also many volunteers from the community rolled up their sleeves and helped to construct the new building.

In 1953, members of the press recorded the formal dedication and opening of the Bay City Y was held in the middle of 1954. Located at 111 N. Madison Ave, the cost was approximately $500,000. The Board of Directors and planners knew what was needed in 1937 when they began their dream of building a modern Y.

The location of the building wasn’t the only thing that was changing. In 1964, women and girls were allowed to become members. In 1967, racial discrimination was banned in all YMCA’s across the country. Over the years, the Y had formed an enduring partnership with individuals and the ever-changing needs of Bay County residents. In 1980, the name changed from Bay City YMCA to The Bay Area Family YMCA.

In 2006, the Board of Directors of the Y again reached out to the community to find the needs and wishes of those who live in Bay County. The result was a resounding need for a family based facility, one that Bay County could be proud of, and would reach across demographics, age gaps, and financial situations. With the help of generous donations from Dow Chemical, and well as thousands of private contributions, the new 13.2 million dollar facility began to be built. On December 27, 2011, the new Dow Bay Area Family YMCA opened their doors to thousands of people, with the formal dedication being on January 25, 2012. Within the first 8 weeks, the number of people served by the YMCA doubled, and the true mission of the Y is upheld everyday.

With such a beautiful building, the future has never been brighter for the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA. As a staff, as members, as an organization, and as a community, we will continue to bring forward the very best in fitness, childcare, programming, and fun. We are so proud of what we have accomplished, and look forward to many successful years to come.