Lawrenceville: The Boys' Club of Pittsburgh


The Last 25 Years

Excerpted, in slightly edited form, from Boys' Club of Pittsburgh News, 21 March 1948.

The Boys' Club of Pittsburgh was organized on March 21, 1923, by the Rotary Club of Pittsburgh. Penn Spangler was president of Rotary that year and David I McCahill, Sr., chairman of its Boys' Work Committee. Mr. McCahill was named as the Club's first president and James W. Lodge was appointed Managing Director.
First quarters were on the upper floors of a building at 28th Street and Penn Avenue, which had at one time been a department store. In housed a variety of enterprises, including a small moving picture theater.
The original incorporators, who signed the petition to the Court, were David I. McCahill, Sr., William S. Diggs and Bert H. Smyers. The first board of directors was chosen almost entirely from the membership of the Rotary Club. The present board, too many to reprint here, still has many Rotarians as members but includes prominent men of all faiths and in almost all walks of life, from labor leaders to corporation presidents.

Within the first two years it became evident that the original quarters were inadequate if the Club were to be wholly useful. The shift of population away from the area was also gradually accelerating. An extensive campaign which produced contributions from all classes and all sections of the city made it possible, in the autumn of 1928, to acquire the fine building now occupied at 45th and Butler Streets.
The late Charles D. Armstrong, President of the Armstrong Cork Co., was largely instrumental in obtaining it.

The medical and dental facilities of the Club have been features since its inception. A complete examination is given each boy when he joins and the report is given his parents or guardians.
When the gymnasium is used for entertainments, or as an auditorium, the stage is seen to be, from the inside, the important addition it is. Miss Sophie G. McCormick presented this as the John S. McCormick Memorial. Aside from its principal use as a stage it also provides space for the boxing ring and houses the nightly efforts of the weightlifters.

Activities now under way in the Club include, on the top floor, woodworking, photography, art and printing, on a pre-vocational level, and art instruction at a higher level and at the purely recreational level for younger boys. This floor also houses a Plastic Group Room, a Senior and Intermediate Billiard Room and a Senior Games Room.
On the second floor are the two clinics mentioned, the boxing room with showers, the Hobby Shop, the Dramatic Arts Room, the Model Aeronautics Room and the Music Instruction Room, which also does duty on alternate nights as an additional boxing room with a full sized ring. This floor also has an entrance to the balcony which overlooks the gymnasium from three sides.

The first floor has the offices, the gymnasium, the McCormick addition already mentioned, a large Library, Junior Billiard and Games Rooms, and a kitchen which has frequently been of great service both to the Club and to the Lawrenceville community, as when it made it possible to use the Boys' Club for relief headquarters when the 1936 flood hit the district.
The basement houses the full size swimming pool, large showers, lockers, and four bowling alleys. Activities on the first floor and basement continue always throughout the year. Many of the pre-vocational activities, on the other hand, languish with the arrival of warm weather.

The Boys' Club of Pittsburgh is a member of the Federation of Social Agencies of Allegheny County and receives its principal support from the Community Chest, of which it is a Red Feather Agency. Its distinctive polices derive from its affiliation from the Boys' Clubs of America, Inc. of which it has been a member since its organization.


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