About Site


Written July 27, 2015


The Young Women’s Christian Association of Washington, Pennsylvania, was organized in the spring of 1909.  Their work grew into “a full program of activities for women and girls of all ages, creeds and nationalities,” and within 20 years the YWCA was ready to move into stately new headquarters at 42 West Maiden Street.

The building, by local architect R. Garey Dickson, still stands, and Washington's City Hall is now located across the street.

The YWCA is a three-story Elizabethan Revival structure of symmetric stone masonry.  Multi-colored brick is accented with cut stone quoins and carved stone bandings.  There are grouped lancet windows, high gables, pinnacles, and embattlements.  Beneath a pointed archway and a stone coat of arms are entrance doors made of oak.

The edifice was dedicated on Sunday, October 27, 1929.  An entire week of festivities followed, despite the crash of the stock market on October 29.

The building was remodeled in the 1970s and rededicated on Wednesday, March 30, 1977.  I was at the ceremony to operate Cable TV3’s single black-and-white camera.  (An earlier version of this article mistakenly placed this telecast two years later, at the building’s golden anniversary.)

The Y purchased a copy of our tape to keep in their archives, so that the celebrations could be viewed again at the 100th anniversary.  Would ¾” videocassette players be readily available to play the tape in the far-off year of 2027?  I had my doubts, but that wasn’t really my concern.

Within three years, I had moved away from Washington.  The YWCA continued its activities, with numerous outside organizations using the facility for social and administrative purposes.  But the building was becoming more costly to maintain.  The slate roof was leaking.  Also, the Y's membership base was shrinking.  The doors closed in 2002.

The structure sat empty for a decade.  “Everybody in Washington wished that someone would do something with that building,” says Kathleen Kleinmann.  “It’s been boarded up, looking like a grand monstrosity.”  One plan was to raze it and put up a parking lot.

Ms. Kleinmann is the CEO of Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living, a local nonprofit that serves residents with cognitive, sensory and/or physical disabilities.  In 2012, TRIPIL bought the building and hired architect Ken Kulak to plan an $8 million renovation, including a new addition.


And Roger Goodell, a 1981 graduate of Washington’s W&J College who’s now the commissioner of the National Football League, returned to Washington County for a luncheon in July of 2015 to kick off a fundraising campaign.

TRIPIL produced a video showing the sad current state of the building, including the auditorium where I televised that anniversary banquet.  My camera was stationed at the upper right of this picture, on the balcony.  From there I could cover the stage, and I could also look down at the floor level to show the guests at their tables.

At one point I had a shot framed as shown below in red.  In the background, below the balcony on the far side, my shot included the double doors along the side of the hall. 

Somebody was walking down the corridor outside those doors, and he soon disappeared behind the wall.  As I panned right, I adjusted my speed so that he appeared in the next doorway when my camera got there.

I continued to pan, and he continued to walk.  When I showed the third doorway and he appeared in it, I was quite proud of myself.  I doubt whether anyone noticed.

Anyway, now it’s a new century.  Good luck to TRIPIL on their project!


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