People gather in front of the new YMCA location to pass the new time capsule into the building while dancing to “YMCA” during the YMCA’s time capsule ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

People gather in front of the new YMCA location to pass the new time capsule into the building while dancing to “YMCA” during the YMCA’s time capsule ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Everett YMCA honors the past and prepares for the future

Members toasted the old and new buildings Saturday as the Y moves to a new location on Colby Avenue.

EVERETT — A new era at the Everett Family YMCA was escorted in Saturday as members decommissioned the old location and toured a new building.

For nearly 120 years the Y has sat in downtown Everett, but come December the organization is moving south to a new $33.5 million building at 4730 Colby Ave.

“We’re here to honor the past and preparing for the future,” said Danen Barnhart, a member of the Y’s board, welcoming the crowd.

Attendees signed the old gym floor, browsed contents sealed in an almost century-old time capsule and toasted the new and old buildings.

The time capsule was sealed in the cornerstone of the 1921 building, constructed after the original one burnt down. Despite an inch of water discovered when the capsule was cut open, many of the papers were still legible.

Inside documents showed the community’s overwhelming response to the campaign to rebuild after the fire completely destroyed the first Y.

In just weeks, $183,000 was raised, surpassing the goal by $31,000, according to a 1920 article in the Everett Tribune. That was just one of many documents on display from the time capsule.

Bryan Rourke, 5, touches the new time capsule after it was placed into it’s new location during the YMCA’s time capsule ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Bryan Rourke, 5, touches the new time capsule after it was placed into it’s new location during the YMCA’s time capsule ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

In front of a crowd of about 100, a new time capsule was packed. It included current membership cards, a copy of The Daily Herald, coins from 2019, an invitation to today’s events and an American flag.

The metal box was then walked two miles to the new building kicking off a block party. Hot dogs and hamburgers were grilled as folks got a glimpse of the new building still under construction.

Gael Gebow, senior program director at the Y, led some of those tours. The new location, while not any bigger than the five-story building downtown, has more usable space, said Gebow.

The new pool area sits just left of the lobby. A grand staircase on the other side leads up to the locker rooms and an indoor track overlooking a gymnasium. A room that soon will be filled with treadmills has north-facing windows displaying views of downtown.

Snohomish County YMCA CEO Scott Washburn, center, stands on the new capsule as he tries to close it during the YMCA’s time capsule ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Snohomish County YMCA CEO Scott Washburn, center, stands on the new capsule as he tries to close it during the YMCA’s time capsule ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Off the weight area is a reflection room dedicated to Ted Wenta, the former executive director of the Everett Y branch who died earlier this year. He was a catalyst behind the new location.

“This was his vision, his dream,” Gebow said.

Not all of the old location is going away, just the 1960s add-on will be demolished. A developer has plans to convert the 1921 brick building into about 270 apartments.

“I worried the old one would be sacrificed,” said Larry O’Donnell, a local historian and retired educator. “To me that caps off the project.”

He considered that building to be one of Everett’s treasures.

“It makes the town more alive and more interesting when you leave some of the old buildings interspersed with new ones,” O’Donnell said.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

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