HUNTINGTON - The Huntington YMCA was founded in 1885 by banker N.C. Dimmick, who convinced the city to rent rooms in the Palmer Building in the 800 block of 3rd Avenue. In 1891, the third floor of the Parsons Building on 9th Street was rented to expand the program.
An especially designed YMCA building with a swimming pool and gymnasium was built at 6th Avenue and 11th Street in 1931. It housed all the YMCA's activities until, through the generosity of Edwin P. May, a second building was constructed at 10th Avenue and 9th Street.
For roughly 50 years, the Y operated both buildings, with the May Building the center of adult activities, while youth programs were housed at the 6th Avenue building. Many in Huntington today can recall that the pool at the youth building was where they learned how to swim. In a typical year, the Y taught more than 300 youngsters to swim.
In 1978, the 6th Avenue building was named for the late Charles D. Lauer, the Y's longtime executive director who retired in 1974 and died in 1977.
A Brooklyn native, Lauer served as physical director at a Y in Columbus, Ohio, before coming to Huntington to work in the same capacity in 1942. Five years later, he was named the Y's executive director. During his more than 30 years at the Y, Lauer oversaw construction of the May Building and additions to the 6th Avenue building.
Ultimately, the Y decided to close the Lauer Building and so put it up for sale. The Tri-State Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences purchased the building and used it for classes beginning in 2008 but shut down after a few years. Still standing, the vacant building is again up for sale. It contains the original pool, two gyms and other facilities.
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