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Community

Former Rock Island YMCA Now a Local Landmark

riymca_exterior.jpg
City of Rock Island
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the former YMCA, facing 20th Street in Rock Island

The former YMCA in downtown Rock Island is now a local landmark. The Rock Island Preservation Commission has approved the designation for the building at 5th Avenue and 20th Street, now owned by Dan Vinar Furniture.

riymca_cornerstone.jpg
Credit City of Rock Island
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the cornerstone

Miles Brainard, Planning and Redevelopment Administrator for the city, says the Y was built in 1912 and opened in 1913, and was a sign of Rock Island's development as a community.

"In Rock Island's very early days it was thought of as something of a frontier town - a little too rough and tumble for the nicer things. But in the turn of the 20th century we see a lot of different buildings and entities coming to the community that are definite signs of it being a little more upper class, a little more refined."
And for decades it offered railroad workers, soldiers, and other men a place to stay.

It's also a landmark because of the odd blend of architectural styles.

riymca_doorway.jpg
Credit City of Rock Island
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the neo-classical main entry door

"There are certain neo-classical elements like that archway above the front or main door. There's also some arts and crafts elements like the tile work you see up at the top - you see these double diamond panels between the upper story windows that is very interesting."

The YMCA closed in the 1970's, and later was used by U-Haul until the mid-90's when Vinar Furniture became the owner. As a local landmark, Brainard says the former Y gets some recognition for its historical importance, and is protected from demolition or major modifications.

Recently the building has been investigated for paranormal activity, check the Haunted YMCA Rock Island Facebook page.

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