Former Meriden Y.M.C.A. (1877)

February 19th, 2017 Posted in Commercial Buildings, Meriden, Neoclassical, Organizations

The building at 21-23 Colony Street in Meriden was erected in 1877 as a Y.M.C.A. The rear of the structure has a mansard roof and the front facade once had one as well, but the building was altered c. 1920 after the Y.M.C.A. moved to a new building on West Main Street. At that time the building was converted to commercial use with a new facade in the Neoclassical style.

As reported in the Daily Republican on August 1, 1877, a day after the dedication of the building:

The handsome and commodious new building is now ready for occupancy, and it has been built almost solely through the untiring energy and exertions of the president of the association, Mr. W. E. Benham. He has never faltered since he took the matter in hand, but has kept on through difficulties and discouragements which few other men would have surmounted. The association now has one of the handsomest buildings of the kind in the state. Its large and pleasant reading rooms, its gymnasium, and the pleasant parlors will furnish places of resort which cannot fail of doing much good, and Mr. Benham can certainly reflect with great satisfaction upon the good work he has accomplished.

According to The Life and Writings of W. E. Benham (1882):

Its whole internal arrangements are found to have been wisely planned for the accomplishment of its benevolent purposes. It is said to be the most elegant and best built building in Meriden, is admired by all, subscribers and citizens generally, as the right building in the right place, an attractive, convenient center, in which the public, especially young men, in large numbers, delight to resort and pleasantly improve their leisure hours in intellectual, physical, social, moral and religious culture, where, away from the evil, all the surrounding influences are good and elevating. It is estimated’that between 1,000 and 2,000 persons average daily to enter this building, for the various purposes of water, baths, hair-dressing, food, clothing, reading, singing, gymnastics, writing, arithmetic, lectures, concerts, mission schools, lyceums, religious and other meetings. In short, it is an inestimably important building for the moral welfare of Meriden, and could not be spared without an irreparable loss.

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