YMCA Goes to College
Growing Up with the University of Hawai‘i
The first University YMCA was established in 1856 at Cumberland University in Tennessee to foster the leadership development of college students.
The YMCA of Honolulu got its UH start in 1908 at the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts located in McKinley High School. In 1912, the Y followed the newly named College of Hawai‘i to Manoa and continued its work from a “cubbyhole” in Hawai‘i Hall. By 1922, University YMCA was formally organized and was one of the largest and most active groups on the UH campus with 115 male members out of the total 290 male students.
In March 1931, the Atherton family wanted to “erect a building to serve as a home for young men students of the University of Hawai‘i.... that would also serve as the center for University YMCA activities.” Built in memory of its namesake, the Charles Atherton House on University Avenue was dedicated on June 1, 1932. In 1995, the Mary Atherton Richardson House, named in honor of his sister, was purchased by the Y.
In November 2017, the Atherton YMCA property was sold to the UH Foundation, and the Atherton YMCA will return to and establish a branch on the Manoa campus where it can expand its offerings to high school and college students from all walks of life.