On November 12, 1862 the New York State Committee of the YMCA received a formal request for methods of starting a new YMCA in Norwich, New York. The first organizational meeting was held on November 24 of that year with officers elected. When the YMCA first began in Norwich, information documented states that one major accomplishment of the organization was the board’s project of collecting books for soldiers.
The first of many homes for the YMCA was located in the Academy of Music Building, formerly the location of National Bank and Trust Company offices on South Broad Street. This building was destroyed in a disastrous fire and replaced by the building now occupied by the Made in Chenango store located on South Broad Street. The YMCA remained in this location for a number of years until the organization relocated to the Clark Opera House building where small gymnasiums, showers, and reading rooms were available.
It was noted that during the early years of the YMCA, funding for the operation was through donations, gifts, and fundraising activities.
At a meeting on December 10, 1887 it was announced that an application for incorporation was granted and in the City of Norwich Archival Records is a copy of this certification dated February 17, 1888.
By 1901 the matter of a new building for the association was under discussion and various pieces of property were considered. On September 20, 1901 the matter of a new building was deferred for further consideration. By 1903, the Trustees made the decision to purchase the S.A. Jones house and lot on North Broad Street for the sum of $6,000. At the dedication of this new modern facility on June, 15, 1904 the Honorable Albert F. Gladding is quoted as saying “On the ninth day of April, 1895, Harriet N. Gibson died. In the preceding September, she had made her will, bequeathing to this association a legacy of $10,000. It is proper that the citizens of our beautiful village should properly acknowledge such a generous gift”.
On May 26, 1926 the purpose of the Norwich YMCA was given in detail and is quoted directly:
- To interest boys and young men in the best literature by placing in the YMCA reading room only the best magazines and papers
- To help boys and young men to get positions for which they are best filled.
- To advise young men and boys concerning themselves and their attitudes toward others.
- To visualize to the boys the opportunities in the business and professional life.
- To interest the business and professional men of Norwich to a sympatric interest in the welfare of the boys in the community.
- To create a healthier attitude toward the boy by keeping him out of mischief and guiding his activities.
- To develop in the boy an interest in his own health by supervised gymnastic work
- To enable fathers and mothers to see their boys in action in a program of recreation.
- To create in the minds of the boys and young men of the City a desire for clean speech, clean thoughts, and clean athletics.
- To alleviate in the minds of the City of Norwich that Norwich is built strong or weak according to the strong or weak generation growing up.
In 1940, the late Stanley K. Georgia was appointed General Secretary of the YMCA. Mr. Georgia would serve in this capacity until his retirement in the early 1970’s he was succeeded by Donald Ted Clark who held this position until 1988 when the late David P. Sherman from Worcester, MA was hired to fill the vacant seat. Mr. Sherman held the position until his untimely death in October 1996. YMCA Physical Director, Jamey Mullen succeeded Mr. Sherman and continues to hold this position today.
In 1941, the Trustees voted to enlarge the facilities of the then present building and a second story was built on the social part of the building providing a 30 –foot extension on the gym and bowling alley runways, a dining room and kitchen facilities, new heating plant and locker room at a cost of $27,000.
The YMCA continued in this capacity of serving the community of Norwich until June 1953, when the Trustees voted to build once more at the current location. A 66-foot-by-90-foot gym, a special exercise room with punching bag, body bag, and weights, a 20-foot-by-60-foot swimming pool, handball courts, woodworking shop, craft rooms, archery range, rifle range, separate lockers for men and women, kitchen facility and meeting rooms. This expansion was in the planning stages since 1945. The total cost for this project was $283,510. The addition was completed in 1954.
In December of 1954 in accordance with the by-laws previously adopted the 1st annual election of Directors was held. At that time also proposed changes n the by-laws were as follows: Admission to active membership of women 18 or over, limitation of directors to two consecutive terms, provide that the secretary and treasurer were not required to be directors and may be appointed by the president subject to the approval of the Board of Directors.
In April of 1963 it was announced that the Norwich YMCA was growing and Board President, Frank Santolucito and Trustee Chairman Otis A. Thompson announced plans for expansion. This latest expansion program would raze the building formerly owned by Ryan Motors and in December of 1963, the new YMCA wing addition was announced at a cost of $300,000. This expansion would provide a youth center, snack bar, a spectator gallery for the swimming pool, five new clubrooms, gym annex, new entry, and new locker room for women. In October 1964 the new dedication of this addition was held with over 3,200 persons attending. The new facilities were now valued at $750,000 and membership was reported at 2,000.
A major announcement in November 1967 stated that the YMCA had purchased a new campsite in the town of Smyrna from John Connor from Long Island. Plans were developed for a new YMCA Camp, which would replace the former YMCA Camp in the town of Pharsalia, which had been used for that purpose for twenty-two years prior. The new camp was expected to open in 1969.
In 1970 a ceremony was held in July of that year for the completion of a newly constructed 10.5-acre lake at the camp facility. In January of 1972 it was announced that the YMCA Camp would be renamed Otis A. Thompson Camp to honor Thompson a former director of the organization. The Lodge at the camp was also renamed in honor of Stanley K. Georgia.
In 1980 another YMCA expansion saw the addition of three additional racquetball courts and interior improvements made.
In 1999 the YMCA announced a capital campaign of $4.5 million to construct a completely new YMCA facility in downtown Norwich. In an effort to remain downtown the YMCA purchased nine properties that surrounded the existing facility on North Broad Street. The YMCA also petitioned the city to close down Turner Street to the east of the YMCA for the construction footprint. Two of the nine properties were historic in nature and were donated to the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown. The homes were dismantled piece by piece and transported to the Museum where they were reconstructed to their original constructed style in Cooperstown.
In January 2002 an open house was held for all residents to view the new expanded 7.2 million dollar facility. Several thousand residents enjoyed the balmy January temperatures to see the long awaited downtown facility. The former YMCA was razed for the much needed parking. Within one year of being opened the “new” YMCA saw its membership more than double to 4,600 plus members. The membership peaked at 5,000 total members and continues to provide programs and services to approximately 4,400 members today.
Since the current facility opened in 2002 the YMCA has continued to invest in its new home by constructing two new parking lots for its membership. One parking lot is to the south, on Mechanic Street, and one to the north off of Mitchell Street. Also during this time period many mechanical improvements and additional site work has been completed in conjunction with the Norwich Streetscape Project.
The Dimmick House at the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown
YMCA officials, community leaders, and local historical preservationists attended the grand opening of The Dimmick House at The Farmers' Museum, in Cooperstown, New York. The newly restored Dimmick House was officially opened to the public at a formal dedication on Saturday, September 13th, 2008.
The Dimmick House is currently on display and available to the public. The home also features a collection entitled "All the modern conveniences" and exhibition of domestic technology in the 19th Century. The Jaycox home was dismantled and numbered accordingly and placed in storage for future use.
The Dimmick House once stood at 21 Mechanic Street and was a Greek Revival structure and was built in 1839. Hosea and Sophia Dimmick purchased the house in 1853 for $1,350. The couple lived in the house for forty years. When the Dimmicks passed away in 1887 and 1889 respectfully the home was willed to their daughter Frances Fuller. The home remained in the Dimmick family for the next 78 years.
After five subsequent owners the YMCA of Norwich bought the home in 1999 when the YMCA announced the plans for a 5.6 million dollar building project in an effort to construct the new YMCA in downtown Norwich. Knowing the historical significance of the Dimmick House and the neighboring Jaycox House the YMCA purchased, donated to the Farmers Museum, and in addition, made a financial contribution to assist with the transportation of the two houses forty five miles to their final resting place in Cooperstown.
For more information on the Dimmick House and and The Farmers Museum please visit the www.farmersmuseum.org