Artifacts dating to 1860, including a book of minutes from 1860 about starting a YMCA in West Chester, are part of a new “archive wall” at the YMCA’s Oscar Lasko Youth Program Center in downtown West Chester.
The permanent display traces the Y’s history in Chester County from its beginnings in the 1800s to the groundbreaking of the West Chester YMCA on Airport Road in 2007. The wall, created in honor of former Y president and CEO Gary Green, also traces the history of the national YMCA. Details range from a Y uniform worn by Anna Harlan, a prominent Coatesville social worker who volunteered as a canteen worker in France in 1919, to a carefully preserved fruitcake, part of a Y campaign to send more than 10,000 fruitcakes to servicemen during World War II.
Last week, visitors to the opening ceremony included Irvie Hoffman, 94, who viewed news articles from 1910 and 1958 with photos of his father, J. Irvie Hoffman, former general secretary of the Coatesville Y.
“The archive wall gives us a wonderfully visual view of the Y’s more than 150 years of service to youth and families in Chester County,” said Denise L. Day, president and CEO of the YMCA of the Brandywine Valley. “I’m proud of our past and look forward to the work ahead, as we strengthen the foundations of our community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”