Young Women's Christian Association

  • Ywcaa
  • Ywcae

Young Women’s Christian Association

(site of)

87 Spring Street

The Portland YWCA was founded in 1894, evolving from the Female Tract Society begun in 1827 and the Portland Women’s Christian Association founded in 1869. It was first organized to “protect girls going into cities to work, to give them safe and decent shelter, and good food, all within their small means.” Part of a national movement, by 1907, the YWCA was running three homes, including a Travelers’ Aid House near Union Station (site W12), as well as a summer camp in Falmouth. Another camp was added in Yarmouth and on Long Island. In addition to housing, the YWCA ran an employment bureau. It moved into its new building in 1961 with its popular gymnasium and swimming pool. The YWCA’s programs kept up with the times, supporting the Fair Harbor Shelter, Fair Harbor Residence, teen parent services, and a street program to meet needs of homeless teens. Founded as a Protestant organization, the YWCA was strengthened by its modern emphasis on racial and religious diversity. Financial difficulty forced the YWCA to close down in the mid-2000s. Its closure was seen as a serious loss to women and agencies that serve them. The deteriorating building was razed to make way for a private parking lot serving the Portland Museum of Art, which purchased the property in 2007.