Twelfth Street YMCA Building

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Twelfth Street YMCA Building
12th Street YMCA Building.JPG
Twelfth Street YMCA Building is located in Washington, D.C.
Twelfth Street YMCA Building
Twelfth Street YMCA Building is located in the US
Twelfth Street YMCA Building
Location 1816 12th St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°54′53.8″N 77°01′41.8″W / 38.914944°N 77.028278°W / 38.914944; -77.028278Coordinates: 38°54′53.8″N 77°01′41.8″W / 38.914944°N 77.028278°W / 38.914944; -77.028278
Area .395 acres (1,600 m2)[1]
Built 1908-12
Architect William Sidney Pittman
Architectural style Renaissance Revival
Part of Greater U Street Historic District[2] (#93001129)
NRHP reference # 83003523
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 3, 1983[3]
Designated NHL October 12, 1994[4]

Twelfth Street YMCA Building, also known as the Anthony Bowen YMCA, was home to the first African American chapter of the YMCA, founded in 1853 by Anthony Bowen. It is located at 1816 12th Street NW in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The building was reopened on February 20, 2000 as the Thurgood Marshall Center in honor of the first African American Associate Justice to serve on the United States Supreme Court. The Thurgood Marshall Center now serves as a community center for residents of the U Street Corridor and Shaw neighborhoods. The permanent organization of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. was established in the Bowen Room.

Completed in 1912, the Renaissance Revival building was designed by William Sidney Pittman, one of the United States' first African American architects and a son-in-law of Booker T. Washington. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1994 and is a contributing property to the Greater U Street Historic District.[1][4]

Description and history[edit]

The Thurgood Marshall Center is located on the west side of 12th Street NW, between S and T Streets. It is a large rectangular four-story masonry building, built out of red brick with trim of limestone and gray brick. Its main facade is three bays wide, with a center entrance sheltered by a Tuscan portico with entablature, modillioned cornice, and low balustrade above. The ground floor is finished in bands of gray brick arranged to appear as rough stone, while the upper floors are red brick with gray brick corner quoining. Limestone stringcourses serve as a water table between the basement and first floor, between the first and second floors, and above the top floor. The building is crowned by a modillioned and dentillated cornice and a low balustrade. Windows are set in pairs in each bay, with limestone keystones.[1]

The international YMCA was founded in Great Britain in 1844, and its first American branch opened in 1851. Anthony Bowen founded the first African-American branch of the organization in 1853 in Washington, one year after a branch for whites was opened in the city. The organization struggled financially in its early years, and was not formally incorporated until 1892. The organization moved into its first permanent home on 11th Street in 1891, which it soon had sell due to declining membership. After a membership drive revitalized the organization, it secured a pledge from John D. Rockefeller Sr. of $25,000, which was matched by fundraising from across the nation's African-American community. It is believed to be the first such campaign of its type in that community. This building was completed in 1912 to a design by African-American architect William Sidney Pittman.[1]

In 1973 the Twelfth Street YMCA was officially renamed the Anthony Bowen YMCA in honor of its founder. It closed in 1982, suffering from declining membership and mounting building maintenance costs.[1] After undergoing restoration, it reopened in 2000 as the Thurgood Marshall Community Center.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Laura Harris Hughes and Laura V. Trieschmann (March 1994). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Twelfth Street Young Men's Christian Association Building / Anthony Bowen Young Men's Christian Association Building" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying nine photos, exterior and interior, from 1994 (32 KB)
  2. ^ Trieschmann, Laura V.; Sellin, Anne; Callcott, Stephen (November 1998), National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Greater U Street Historic District (PDF), retrieved March 31, 2015 .
  3. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  4. ^ a b "Twelfth Street YMCA Building". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 

External links[edit]