The Salem branch of the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) was established in 1858, and from 1884-1898 was located at 20 1/2 Central Street.
Though originally built for affordable housing, the present-day YMCA (corner of Essex St. and Sewall St.) is a light brick and freestone building built in 1898. Its second floor auditorium is named Ames Hall, in honor of George Leonard Ames, a benefactor of the Association. The building is on the site of the Sanders homestead, where Alexander Graham Bell perfected the telephone when he was working with their deaf son.
In 1983, the YMCA building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In early 2003, the small pool was renovated and rededicated to Jim Manning, a long-time swim instructor.
In 1991, the Salem YMCA expanded with a new addition featuring a new swimming pool, fitness center and track. This was a $1.3 million renovation.
In 2010 the YMCA of the North shore underwent a name change and the organizations will be known as the Y.
In recent years, there has been a campaign to restore historic Ames Hall built in 1898, with a capital campaign that began in 2010. The North YMCA Theatre Company is based at the Y and stages several performances every year. The marble staircase and stained glass windows will hopefully be renovated as well as heating and air conditioning improvements.
It was announced in Dec. 2012 that the new creative arts center will be named for the local Zoll family; The Samuel and Marjorie Zoll Creative Arts Center will be open to all children.
The restored Ames Hall, built in 1896 as a concert and lecture hall, opened on Friday Feb. 7th, 2014. The space fell into disrepair after being converted into a gym in the 1970's. The state-of-the-art improvements were accompanied by a respect for the building's history. The hall will be home to the Y Theatre Company.
- Postcard Photograph courtesy of CardCow.com
- Salem YMCA Website
- Young Men's Christian Association YMCA, 1904, (contains photographs)
- Architecture in Salem by Tolles, p. 104
- Visitor's Guide to Salem 1953 ed., p. 195
- "Sewall Street home to fort, reservoir and today, Salem Y" (letters to the editor) Salem News, Feb. 23, 2011, p. 11
- "A new YMCA facility is launched" Salem Evening News, Aug. 10, 1991, p. 1
- "YMCA to open new pool building in September" Salem Evening News, July 28, 1992, p. 9
- "Salem man teaches the timid to swim" (Jim Manning swim instructor) Salem Evening News, July 29, 1996, p. A1
- A look into the past through the YMCA Salem News, Mar. 25, 2013
- "Y to name arts center for Zolls" Salem News, Dec. 15, 2012, p. 1
- "YMCA's creative endeavor; Ames Hall on verge again becoming a center for the arts" Salem News, Feb. 5, 2014, p. 1