A Brief History of the YMCA and Fauntleroy Church Collaboration

Last updated: March 15, 2024, at 2:22 p.m. PT

Originally published: March 8, 2024, at 2:52 p.m. PT

fauntleroy church and ymca

From Guided by the Light: Fauntleroy Church at the Centennial Milepost (2008) 

1914: In 1914, Fauntleroy residents built a gymnasium due north of the chapel. John and Maggie Adams donated the building site and Laurence Colman oversaw the work. In addition to a gym, the structure included a locker and shower room, meeting rooms, and a manual training room.

1924: No history of Fauntleroy Church can be written without linking the church to the Fauntleroy Grade School and Fauntleroy Young Men's Christian Association. Their missions overlapped for years, as did their participants. Many a parent from the 1920s through the 1950s could be heard to say, "If my kids aren't at school, they're at the church or Y." Children and youth moved freely (and safely) under the canopy formed by these pillars of a community intent on being the best possible "village" for rearing the next generation of citizens.

Laurence Colman arranged for the Seattle YMCA to extend its "community work" to Fauntleroy in 1924. The church provided the facility; family memberships, the charitable Colman Fund, and the YMCA funded activities. A management board oversaw the resulting "Fauntleroy Center," including Camp Colman. Because the people involved at the Y were the same people involved at the church, the initial arrangement was based on little more than a handshake.

1930s to mid-1940s: From the 1930s to the mid-1940s, Fauntleroy Center hosted an annual bean feed that harkened back to the days when women were said to have cooked beans over an outdoor fire to serve at the church. Although the bean feed was a YMCA event, it was much anticipated by the entire Fauntleroy neighborhood, especially the children; 250 were reported as attending in 1944.

Late 1940s: In May 1949, the trustees signed a contract to enlarge the Y facility: move the gymnasium, add a kitchen and large-event room in the basement for joint use by the church and Y, and build Y administrative offices, club rooms, and locker rooms. The committee recommended against moving Y activities to a separate building, as articulated by Ken Colman:

It has been the policy of this church almost since its inception to provide under its roof a weekday recreation program for all the children in this community as a means of meeting head-on the leisure-hour problems. Shortly after starting the program, we invited the YMCA to join hands with us in providing leadership and continuity of program. This (partnership) has continued to this day with honor and prestige to our church because of its forward look. The program has existed with joint use of the facilities and, substantially, with harmony in the top leadership level.

When the Fauntleroy Y became a full-fledged branch, in 1949, 515 members were participating in clubs, teams, crafts, dancing, baton twirling, dramatics, and exercise.

1950s: Construction of a new sanctuary included commissioning stained-glass panels to frame the sanctuary doors.  The Y was so closely tied to the church that the panel symbolizing service includes the Y triangle.

Mid-1960s: Going to camp was the highlight of the year for many who grew up in Fauntleroy between the world wars. As noted in the 1949 church history, “For many years, the Colman family generously supported the manual training and gym program for boys and girls - a program that included a five-day vacation for boys and a similar one for girls at Camp Colman on beautiful Horsehead Bay. Unquestionably, this program had much to do with giving this area the lowest juvenile delinquency record of any in Seattle." 

Early 1970s: In the early 1970s, the congregation led a fund-raising effort to benefit Camp Colman, the church, and YMCA. It raised over $136,000 over a three-year period.

1993: The Fauntleroy YMCA managed Camp Colman until 1993, when the YMCA of Greater Seattle took over administration. The camp had long been drawing campers from more than Fauntleroy, and the change in responsibility consolidated all YMCA camping programs in the area under one roof.

2007: Although various agreements were spelled out over the intervening years, the church and Y signed the first comprehensive, formal lease in 2007.

2010: A $2.5 million renovation project in 2010 included installing an elevator, enlarging the narthex to improve hospitality, giving more visibility to church and YMCA offices, and rebuilding the sanctuary window.

Category: Community Membership