The historic Butler Street YMCA is one of only six remaining Heritage YMCAs of its kind. In the Spring of 1894, Mr. J. S. Brandon led the charge to organize the Butler Street Chapter as a spiritual, social and recreational beacon for the African-American community in Atlanta. Ultimately, the Butler Street facility was complete with 48 dormitory rooms, 7 class rooms, a small auditorium, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, shower baths, a café, and restrooms. The only minority YMCA in America to operate independently, Butler Street YMCA allowed visitors of color to find clean, safe accommodations, free of the demeaning exclusion that was the rule of Jim Crow. In two World Wars, such facilities also provided a safe haven for African American servicemen denied room and board, as well as food service elsewhere in a segregated society. Butler Street YMCA was home to many of Atlanta's key business and civic leaders, educators and professionals during their transition to Atlanta from rural sections of the south in search of better opportunities.

Touted as "The Black City Hall of Atlanta," Butler Street YMCA served as the hub of community activities in Atlanta for decades, particularly those related to the African American community. The facilities of Butler Street served as a convenient center for then Negro citizens to meet, petition and frequently negotiate civil rights issues and conflicts with city, county and state political candidates and officials. The first Negro police officers for the City of Atlanta were housed in Butler Street YMCA's basement to facilitate Mayor Hartsfield's agreement to employ Negro policemen in the city's precinct. The integration of the department was almost thwarted for lack of separate headquarters from which these new recruits could do their jobs, thus giving the Butler Street YMCA great significance in the struggle for equity in the City of Atlanta.

Through these doors have passed some of the city's most-renowned African-American leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Vernon Jordan and the late Maynard Jackson, former mayor of Atlanta, who all grew up at the Butler Street YMCA. In the 1990's, an addition was built across the street and the Butler Street YMCA legacy continues to thrive into the 21st century.
•In 1853, the first YMCA for blacks was founded by Anthony Bowen, a freed slave, in Washington, D.C.

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