The original Northfield YMCA was established around 1883, and is reported to have been the first “outstate” YMCA in Minnesota. Not much is known about the organization then, and research is underway to fill in the gaps. We think we know the following (all is subject to verification):
- The YMCA established a building on Division Street in 1885 as a gymnasium, library and reading room.
- This building was the first home to what would later become the Northfield Public Library.
- There is a rumor that Mark Twain visited the YMCA, and signed the guest register.
- The YMCA closed for unclear reasons about 1900.
- The building was conveyed to the City of Northfield around 1917 and used for a variety of purposes including a police station, public restrooms, and offices.
Please let us know if you have verification of this or additional history. We’d love to add to the knowledge bank! Also, if your family holds any YMCA artifacts from this era in its collection, we’d like to know about them. Especially desired are old doorknobs embossed with the old YMCA logo (a triangle, the Greek “Chi Rho” symbol for Christ, and a bible open to the Book of John, Chapter 17:21), any stained-glass pieces that may have adorned the building, and any framed or unframed photographs or paintings of the building or YMCA people of the time.
History was researched by:
2007 Middle School Junior Curators