Plans call for the 1920 brick YMCA building to be used to create apartments downtown. The taller 1960 YMCA structure behind will be torn down after the Y moves to its new building on Everett’s Colby Avenue. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Plans call for the 1920 brick YMCA building to be used to create apartments downtown. The taller 1960 YMCA structure behind will be torn down after the Y moves to its new building on Everett’s Colby Avenue. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Celebrate Y’s past, ghost or no ghost, and usher in future

Contents of 1920 YMCA time capsule to be revealed before walk from downtown to new building on Colby.

An exercise room was busy Monday and kids were arriving for swim lessons, but a walk through the old Everett Y building wasn’t a workout. It was a trip back in time.

“It’s important to us, people’s attachment to it,” said Gael Gebow, senior program director at the Everett Family YMCA. “It’s been here longer than most people have been living.”

On Saturday, the YMCA of Snohomish County will celebrate its nearly 120-year history and its soon-to-open new home in Everett with free public events. The day will start with a 10 a.m. decommissioning ceremony at the old Y building downtown, complete with a keepsake giveaway and the unveiling of a time capsule’s contents.

From there, intrepid walkers will join in an 11 a.m. trek south to Everett’s new Y building at 4730 Colby Ave. A free block party starting at noon at the Colby site will include tours of the $33.5 million Y building, still under construction, hot dogs and hamburgers, games, membership sign-ups and more.

Everett YMCA senior program director Gael Gebow (left) walks along a banked wooden track high above the old gymnasium in the 1920 Y building. Looking on Monday are marketing coordinator Zac Jagow (back) and member services director Kristy Kentch. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Everett YMCA senior program director Gael Gebow (left) walks along a banked wooden track high above the old gymnasium in the 1920 Y building. Looking on Monday are marketing coordinator Zac Jagow (back) and member services director Kristy Kentch. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

The oldest part of the Everett Y has been at California Street and Rockefeller Avenue for nearly a century. The Georgian-style building was erected in 1920 and opened in 1921. A developer’s plans, announced earlier this summer, call for the four-floor brick structure to be repurposed as a 51-unit apartment building.

Seattle-based Trent Development, Inc., also plans to tear down the newer part of the Everett Y, built in 1960, to build a new apartment building. And 169 more apartments are planned for across the street.

The 1920 building wasn’t the first Y on the downtown site. According to Larry O’Donnell’s book, “The First 100 Years: An Illustrated History of the YMCA of Snohomish County,” a 1920 fire claimed the original 1901 building, which was designed by noted architect August Heide.

Monday’s walk-though was a link to the past.

“This is where you came in with your kids,” said Michelle Pitzer, the Everett Y’s senior program director of child care and family, pointing out the door that opens onto California Street. My two older children, now 36 and 32, went to a combined preschool and swim class in the 1920 building.

A sport court in the 1920s Everett Y building is now used for storage. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

A sport court in the 1920s Everett Y building is now used for storage. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Off limits Monday were dormitory rooms on the upper floors, once temporary housing. A ghost named “George” has been a longstanding legend of the old place, Gebow said.

After the 1960s pool opened, the basement pool in the 1920s building was covered over.

“You’re now entering the ’60s,” Gebow said as we stepped into a gym where my son played Biddy Basketball as a kindergartner.

Still a showplace is the ’20s gym. Its banked track, a level above the gym floor, is a gleaming wooden beauty crafted of fir. A falcon painted on the gym wall designates what were once the local Y’s Falcon basketball teams.

Donny Willeto, the Y’s director of mission advancement, said Saturday’s events are meant to be “a celebration of this monumental event,” a way to recognize a place loved by generations and to usher in a new era.

The move will mean “a gap between service” for users of the Y’s athletic facilities, Willeto said. A two-week closure will precede the new Y’s scheduled Dec. 1 opening. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for Nov. 23.

A lifeguard keeps an eye on swimmers in one of the indoor pools in the 1960 Everett Y building. Soon, swimmers will take their dips in new pools at the Y’s brand-new facility. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

A lifeguard keeps an eye on swimmers in one of the indoor pools in the 1960 Everett Y building. Soon, swimmers will take their dips in new pools at the Y’s brand-new facility. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Kristy Kentch, the Everett Y’s member services director, said the facility now has about 2,500 adult and family memberships, with 1,000 more expected by opening.

Accessibility will be a key improvement. The old building has six flights of stairs and no elevator. The new Y has two indoor pools, one for competition, the other with a lazy river and a zero-depth entry point. There’s also an indoor track, space for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County and a full-size gym, plus room for exercise classes and a drop-in day-care facility.

Kentch said donors Mike and Barb Fulcher purchased a unique item at a Y auction — the first dip in the new pool.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Construction continues at the new Everett Y on Colby Avenue. The new building is scheduled to open Dec. 1. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Construction continues at the new Everett Y on Colby Avenue. The new building is scheduled to open Dec. 1. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Y celebrations Saturday

YMCA of Snohomish County will host free events Saturday.

Decommissioning ceremony: 10-11 a.m. at the 1920 YMCA building, 2720 Rockefeller Ave., Everett. Includes speakers, a keepsake giveaway, and unveiling of contents from a time capsule. The building will be in use for nearly two more months.

Ceremonial walk: 11 a.m.-noon, a group walk from the current Everett Y to the new Y building at 4730 Colby Ave.

Block party: noon-2 p.m., tours of the new facility, hot dogs and hamburgers, games, face painting, door prizes and membership sign-ups.

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