1900-1910: Expanding to Serve All

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Early Roots in African American Community

Just 13 years after the YMCA had begun in Fort Worth, a new YMCA for the African-American community was founded in 1903.  The YMCA was initially formed as an independent YMCA, and served the community for a number of years before disbanding.  Soon, however, the YMCA was revived and in 1915, became the first official branch to affiliate with the Fort Worth YMCA.  As a report prepared for the YMCA’s 70th Anniversary in 1960 states, “the Fort Worth Association must have pioneered in this work” as records indicated that as late as 1924, Fort Worth was the only YMCA listed in the state with a branch dedicating to serving the African-American community.

The branch developed a vocational school, with courses in automobile mechanics,carpentry, shoe repairing, electric wiring and stenography.  The branch also operated a free employment bureau which in 1920 had placed over 3,000 individuals in jobs. In addition, the YMCA had a restaurant serving nutritional food at discounted rates.  Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the YMCA conducted sports programs including football and baseball and developed a Hi-Y Club that sent 50 delegates to a conference in Wichita Falls.

A Legacy is Born

William McDonald

In 1939, a well-known civic leader and businessman in Fort Worth’s African-American community became forever intertwined with theYMCA when William A. “Gooseneck” McDonald donated a formerhotel to the YMCA for its use.  Thus, the branch was renamed the McDonald YMCA, and it retains that name to this day, although the site of the former hotel no longer is used. Mr. McDonald’s generosity and support provided much needed space for the YMCA and the McDonald YMCA remained at that property until 1970, when the current building, located on East Berry Street was constructed.

A Mission for All

Today, the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth serves a diversity of individuals from many different walks of life in all of its 13 branches.  The McDonald Community YMCA now serves a diverse community as well, including a growing Latino population.  The McDonald Community YMCA today offers traditional programs such as wellness and fitness classes, youth sports and swim lessons in the summer months. In addition, the McDonald Community YMCA offers programs specifically designed for teens including  a teen day camp, Youth & Government programs, a Youth Action Council and TRUCE, a gang prevention program.

Through his generosity and foresight, William McDonald was able to provide a foundation for the YMCA that has served the African-American community in Fort Worth for the last 70 years.  Through the years, hundreds of thousands of volunteers have also contributed to make the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth what it is today – a non-profit, charitable organization that is and has been here for good.


1900-1910: Expanding to Serve All

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p>In 1903, the first YMCA was founded to serve African-Americans in Fort Worth.  The YMCA became a branch of the central YMCA in 1915, and was renamed the McDonald YMCA after black leader William McDonald donated a hotel for the YMCA’s use.

What are your memories of the McDonald YMCA? Did you go there as a kid, attend meetings as an adult, learn to swim or take classes there?  Let us know! Leave a comment below about your memories.


McDonald YMCA…then and now

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When successful African-American businessman William McDonald donated a hotel property to the YMCA, it became known as the McDonald YMCA.

Today, the McDonald Community YMCA is located on E. Berry Street in a building constructed in 1970-71.  The current building includes a gymnasium, fitness center and multi-purpose rooms used for summer day camps and other teen programs.

A Silver Sneakers class at the McDonald YMCA

A Recent Silver Sneakers Class in the Gym at the McDonald Community YMCA

Former Como Hotel donated to McDonald YMCA

Former Hotel donated to YMCA by William McDonald


McDonald YMCA Through the Years

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Here are some pictures of young men involved in programs at the  McDonald YMCA during the 1940s and 1950s.

.Hi-Y meeting at McDonald YMCA

A meeting of a Hi-Y club at the McDonald YMCA in the 40s. The 1945 Annual Report for the YMCA listed 10 Hi-Y and Gra-Y clubs for African Americans in Fort Worth.

McDonald Y Boys game
Young men at the McDonald casino online YMCA enjoy a lively game of checkers, probably sometime in the 1940s.
McDonald YMCA Father-son banquet

A father-son banquet held at the McDonald YMCA in the late 40s.

Paschal Step Team

Currently, many groups are able to use the McDonald Community YMCA, including this high school Step Team practicing for their performance.


Welcome to the blog celebrating the 120-year history of the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth. In this blog, we will have information for those interested in history, Fort Worth or the YMCA – month by month, decade by decade.

Were you a YMCA member or participant years ago? Do you remember camp outs at Camp Carter or swimming at the Downtown Y? We invite you to share your YMCA memories in this blog – let us know what you remember or what you enjoy most now as a member of the YMCA. We can’t wait to hear from you!