Young Men's Christian Association


Beginning in 1852, the New Orleans branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) set out on a mission to create a better young man in the society of New Orleans at the time. As Walter B. Abbott, the General Secretary of the YMCA from 1903-2005, put it: “To be a Y.M.C.A. boy is a badge of good character all over the world, and much of the moral and physical improvement of a nation can be credited to the efforts of the Young Men’s Christan Associations located in every city, almost, in the world.” [1]
With the aid of the various activities offered by the organization, and papers published also by the organization, the YMCA set out to create a better New Orleans.

History and Leadership

With parents that moved to the “Louisiana Purchase” in 1815 via New York City, Robert Gano Latting (born December 6, 1825) is known as the founder of the New Orleans division of the YMCA. [2] The first building that was built for the organization came to life in 1896 on St. Charles Avenue. Located at street number 815, the building was the organization’s first building that they actually owned and built. The organization was lead by a General Secretary, which from 1900-1920 included J.P. Jackson (February 12, 1900-June 12, 1903), Walter B. Abbott (September 10, 1903-February 1, 1905), R.T. Harall (August 1, 1907-December 31, 1910), Robert Ringer (Jan 1, 1911), and Dr. A. Oscar Brown (November 4, 1913-January 1, 1914). Abbott resigned on 2/1/1905 for health reasons, but came back seven months later and resigned on August 1, 1907.
But at the beginning of the 1920’s, the organization fell on a hard time. Participation with the organization came to a low because of inadequate program space and a pervading negative feeling which permeated the program. Therefore, the YMCA was forced to sell the St. Charles building, eventually selling it to the Orleans Hotel & Realty Co. on April 16, 1921 for $150,000. [3]

815 St. Charles Ave.

The building itself stood four stories tall. The first included the general office, reception hall, game room, the physical director’s office, gymnasium, a swim tank, a locker and dress room, and a boiler. The second floor included a double parlor, another general secretary office, supper rooms, and an auditorium. The third floor housed the Boys Department room, two bedrooms rented to members, and an auditorium gallery. The fourth floor housed the night school classrooms, a kitchen, and additional bedrooms. [4]

Night School Program

One important activity that the YMCA of New Orleans offered to the public was their night school, held on the fourth floor of the St. Charles building. The classes were even offered free to Army and Navy men and women. [5] At one time, the night school boasted an attendance of 350 students. [6] The topics that were taught to the students included: Algebra, Geometry, Bookkeeping, Arithmetic, Reading, Spelling, Penmanship, Mechanical Drawing, Machine Design, Electricity Practice, Boy’s Classes, Architectural Drawing, Shorthand, Typewriting, Civil Service, and Advanced English. [7]

Crescent City Men

Between the years of 1903-2004, the YMCA of New Orleans published a paper entitled Crescent City Men. With an average of about eight pages, a new issue each week from the months of September to July, a circulation around 1500, and costing $0.50, [8] the paper started out by saying: “The Crescent City Men makes its bow to the public. We believe there is a place for our paper and we shall endeavor to make it a medium for the circulation of information of a public nature which shall be of interest and value.” [9]
The paper itself included various topics. It’s main purpose was to inform on the happenings of the organization here in New Orleans, but also on the city in general. A good example is the coverage of when the city was installing new pipelines into the sewage. The Crescent featured details of this on the front cover, giving details on plans and so forth. Another example is of their coverage on the building of Lee Circle. Other aspects they told of were events around the city, markets and foods around the area, and even a column on not using profanity, which is a very foolish habit. [10] With articles on the organization, they varied from topics on sports, such as an issue solely devoted to the basketball team of the YMCA of New Orleans. Advertisements in the paper came from Whitney Bank, New Orleans National Bank, Werlein Hall, and many others.

Works Cited

  • The Daily Picayune September 3, 1905 pg. 7
  • Williams, J. Calvin. YMCA New Orleans 1982: 130 Years of History on the Mississippi Crescent. Metropolitan YMCA of Greater New Orleans, 1982.
  • Williams
  • Williams
  • Williams 30
  • Williams 70
  • Crescent City Men
  • Crescent City Men. Masthead
  • Crescent City Men October 3, 1903 pg. 1
  • Crescent City Men February 5, 1904 pg. 4

This page was last modified on 27 April 2012, at 11:56


Young Men's Christian Association

815 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA