The first chapter of the Westfield Area Y began in 1868 by a group of Christian laymen, who wanted to promote intellectual, moral and social growth among young men. Twenty years later a local Y for teenage boys was established as a recreation center on Elm Street. It was soon disbanded because the building was not strong enough to support athletic activities and there were insufficient funds to renovate the facility.
The development of the present organization began in the early 1920’s, when a group of civic-minded men united to establish a program to provide Westfield boys with a place for “constructive” activities and discourage them from hanging out on street corners. A Board of Directors was formed in 1923 and in 1924, they authorized the purchase of land on Clark Street, which still houses the Main facility. The official opening and dedication ceremony of the facility took place on February 17, 1929. Consolidation with the YWCA occurred in 1985, making this a facility equally prized by men, women and children.
Today, the Westfield Area Y has grown to include the Clark Street facility — a handicapped-accessible building that houses a gymnasium, two pools, fitness centers for men and women, free weights, racquetball courts, Nautilus and Cybex equipment, steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools, a dance and aerobic studio and meeting rooms; the Robert and Virginia Bauer Family Branch on East Broad Street, opened in 2005, which houses our NAEYC-accredited preschool and multi-purpose room for youth, teen, family, senior and community programs; our NAEYC-accredited Child Care Center on Elm Street with 9 child care classrooms, a kindergarten, playground and multi-purpose gym; Y Child Care in Garwood, which provides preschool, after school and drop-in care for Cranford and Garwood families; and the Y Teen & Family Wellness Program and Preschool at the Cranford Community Center.
With approximately 11,000 members, the Westfield Area Y has varied its programs to meet the needs of each new generation while honoring the continued commitment to help develop strong character. Programs today continue to cultivate honesty and respect as they emphasize the importance of responsibility and caring for entire families.