Community Post

About Meredith Mathews YMCA -From

For folks interested in learning more about the Central District, one local expert is Dr. Quintard Taylor, a historian at the University of Washington.

Dr. Taylor has created an impressive on-line encyclopedia of African-American history in the west, available at  Several prominent CD landmarks are listed among other places at  > 

Here’s one of the entries, about our YMCA.




Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA

This Seattle branch of the YMCA is located at 23rd Avenue and East Madison Street. The site was formerly used as a tennis club by members of the community. The property was owned by the Colman family, long-time supporters of the YMCA. Members of the black community persuaded the owners to deed the property to the YMCA and in 1936 the modest building and grounds became a new branch of the Seattle YMCAs.

During the World War II years the East Madison YMCA became an Armed Services YMCA for black servicemen and catered largely to them. Under the leadership of John Copeland in the mid 1940s, the Y reached out to the schools and with increased youth programs began to attract more and more young people. The programs and facility grew even more under the leadership of Meredith Mathews.

In 1965 a sturdy, modern structure, designed by black architect Leon Bridges, was built to include a gymnasium, swimming pool, activity rooms and offices.
It was remodeled and enlarged in 1991.

In December 1993, the YMCA of Greater Seattle Board of Directors named the branch the Meredith Mathews East Madison Branch of the YMCA in recognition of Mr. Mathews’ outstanding contribution to the YMCA and to the Seattle community. This is the first YMCA facility of Greater Seattle to be named for an individual.

Mary T. Henry, Tribute: Seattle Public Places Named for Black People (Seattle: Statice Press, 1997).

Henry, Mary
Independent Historian

0 thoughts on “About Meredith Mathews YMCA -From

  1. Anybody know if this Colman family is the namesake of the former Colman Building that was on the SW corner of 23rd and E. Union until it was demolished after the Nisqually Quake (the site of Jim Mueller’s planned construction next summer)?

    I’ve always wondered because I have some of the bricks that were being disposed of when the Colman Building was taken down.

  2. My friend has researched the Colman family for the contributions they have made to the YMCA and related to the 100th anniversary of Camp Orkila and the upcoming Camp Colman anniv. She says that this building originated with the Colman Family. You have a very unique treasure.

  3. Interesting article about our Y. It’s a great resource.

    Regarding the Colman Family. I went to and searched for Colman Seattle, Lots of articles.