The historic Wabash YMCA in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood received a grant from the National Park Service to preserve the cultural landmark.
With the grant totaling nearly $437,000, the plan is to restore what was once a safe haven for people of color who came to Chicago during the Great Migration and prepare the building for future generations.
“The Harlem Globetrotters used to practice here,” said Patricia Abrams, former executive director of the Renaissance Collaborative. “… This was also where the African American publishers group started. It is also where African American studies with Carter G. Woodson started here as well. It has lots of historical significance to African Americans who know the history.”
Oji Eggleston, the Renaissance Collaborative’s current executive director, said the YMCA plans to use the grant to renovate the pool, locker rooms, historic mural and common areas “to bring the building up to par to set the tone for the next 20 years.”
“We want to tell a story,” Abrams said, “and we have to save the building to do that.”
The work includes updating the transitional housing unit directly next door, which holds 100 units. The YMCA also has plans to update its industrial kitchen and provide more mental health resources.