Seeing Things, Saying Things

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Stately Reminders of the YMCA and YWCA in Downtown Akron

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The origin of the CityCenter Building in downtown Akron, Ohio, is carved into the limestone above the entryway.

The origin of the CityCenter Building in downtown Akron, Ohio, is carved into the limestone above the entryway.

A distance view of the Akron YMCA building with a light tower of Canal Park in the foreground. Canal Park is home to the Class AA Akron Rubber Ducks minor league baseball team.

A distance view of the Akron YMCA building with a light tower of Canal Park in the foreground. Canal Park is home to the Class AA Akron Rubber Ducks minor league baseball team.

Although not adjacent, the historic YMCA and YWCA buildings in Akron, Ohio, share a common history.

The two organizations joined forces in 1929 to conduct a joint campaign to raise money for their respective buildings, which both opened in 1931. That campaign raised $2.4 million.

The 10-story YWCA opened on Jan. 28, 1931, at 145 S. High St.  Built of limestone, it has a round arch entry with relief carved panels on the archivolt. The fanlighted glazed arcade on the right aligns with two floors of  windows above the sill course.

The 16-story YMCA building opened on March 10, 1931, at 80 W. Center St., but was not dedicated until Aug. 4. It features an art deco design with a central three-arch entrance with double stairway. The central bay is flanked by successively lower terraced wings.

Both buildings are listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places, but neither is owned by its original owner.

The YWCA moved out in 1991 although the building had been sold in 1985 and renovated for mixed uses. The City of Akron eventually purchased the building and renamed it the CityCenter Building. The gym is still in use by an athletic club.

The YMCA sold its building to a developer who created 55 luxury apartments. The YMCA still leases space in the structure, which now carries the address 1 Canal Square.

The YMCA and YWCA buildings remain among the most distinct structures in downtown Akron.

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