The former YMCA building in the 100 block of W. Daugherty St.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

Once-active YMCA died with its trustees

Jeanne Newby

The former Y.M.C.A. building in the 100 block of West Daugherty St. (where the Prater’s Pharmacy parking lot is today). It was demolished, but a large metal embossed sign was saved.

This week we will discuss the grand Y.M.C.A. building that stood next to the Prater’s Pharmacy building from 1901 – 1992.

The Young Men’s Christian Association had been active in Joplin since 1891. Not to be left out, in 1905, the Young Women’s Christian Association was formed in Joplin.

Meanwhile, in 1900, a few businessmen took it upon themselves to organize a local chapter of the YMCA in Webb City. After the first year, E.T. Webb donated a lot. Construction was paid for with the revenue from private subscriptions paid by residents and businessmen. 

The YMCA was located at 103-109 W. Daugherty St., just west of Main (Allen) Street. It was the perfect location for those young men who were passing through town and needed a place to stay or just to bathe and get rid of travel dust. They would be within walking distance of a cafe, grocery store or any other needs that might arise.

The organization also catered to the local youth by offering many programs to keep them active and out of trouble. They held Sunday services with three Bible classes. The Boy Scouts met there once a week. Over 100 youth attended the gymnasium classes. The YMCA allowed the boys to have access to a library, a reading room, bathrooms, game rooms, the gym and a debate club.

The basement of the YMCA building had a unique swimming pool. The floor would slide over the pool when it wasn’t in use.

The YMCA goal was to supply boys with spiritual, moral and character building influences. It didn’t take long for the association to realize that their grand building was in effect decreasing in size as it attracted more and more boys.

The first floor of the YMCA building housed businesses to bring in revenue for the upkeep of the building.

When you entered the middle doorway and walked up the wide stairway, the space seemed to just open up and invite you onto the spacious second floor. There was the main room and smaller rooms off to each side, with doors and dormer windows. Continuing across the main room to the north, you entered the gymnasium. It was set up for basketball, exercise and even had a piano in the corner for singing.

The YMCA was operated by a board of trustees. Over the years, as those trustees passed away, they were not replaced, and the building went into a state of disrepair. 

The Webb City Historical Society, under the direction of Alfred Jenkins, Fred Spille, Cecil Veatch, Cleo Allen, Sue Rose and others operated and stored wonderful pieces of history for use in a future museum. As the building deteriorated, they tried to move the artifacts, except the piano, to safer areas. The gym floor was too far gone to move a heavy piano across it. 

The building was eventually demolished and a piece of Webb City’s history was lost. But that doesn’t stop the wonderful memories that were shared by many young men as they were taught religion, morality and good health.

Following is a list of some of the businesses that were in the YMCA building over the years. The year listed beside each business is a confirmed year found in research. The business may have been there before that date or after. The addresses seem to jump around for the same business. The business stayed in the same spot, but the legal postal address changed through the years.

105-109 West Daugherty

Y.M.C.A. Building –built in 1901- demolished in 1992. The organization was housed on the second floor, while the ground floor was leased.

105 West Daugherty – F.C. Kelly Jeweler – 1914, 1915

105 West Daugherty – White Lunch Café –  1919

105 West Daugherty – Wm Hunter Electric Company – 1925, 1926

105 West Daugherty – S&S Grocery Store – Nolan H. Sherwood mgr. – 1928

105 West Daugherty – Wheeler’s Shoe shop – 1947-1959

103-105 West Daugherty – Wheeler’s Shoes & Shoe Repair – 1961

105 ½ West Daugherty – American Legion – 1947

105 ½ West Daugherty – American Red Cross – 1947

107 West  Daugherty – Hall Brothers Tonsorial Parlor (Barber) – 1908

107 West  Daugherty  – Henry The Shoe Shiner in Hall Bros. Parlor – 1908

107 West Daugherty – Clark The Tailor – 1908, 1910

107 West Daugherty – Vacant – 1915

107 West Daugherty – Webb City Basket Store – 1919-1931

107 ½ West Daugherty – Luella Johnson – 1928; Lillian Kratz – 1928

107 West Daugherty – Carter Hardware – 1947

109 West Daugherty –  Laura Conklin, Millinery – 1908

109 West Daugherty –H.A. Jackson Meat Market – 1908

109 West Daugherty –Kelly Bros. Jewelry & Opticians – 1910, 1911

109 West Daugherty –Electric Drug Co. – 1910, 1911

109 ½ West Daugherty – Webb City Shoe Shining Parlor – 1910

109 West Daugherty – Wheeler’s Shoe store – 1912

109 West Daugherty – Poudre Puff Beauty Shoppe – 1928

Jeanne’s new book, “The Zinc City, Webb City, Missouri” is now available at Webb City Chamber office and other local retailers, such as Maggie Jane’s Gifts, at 8 S. Main St.

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.