The Lima YMCA received its start at a public meeting held in the Music Hall of the Faurot Opera House on November 7, 1887. This meeting resulted in a temporary organization with B.C. Faurot as acting chairman. In the spring of 1888 several meetings were held in the old Trinity Methodist Church resulting in a decision to form a permanent organization.
On April 30, 1888, at a meeting held in the Market Street Presbyterian Church, the permanent organization of the Lima Young Men’s Christian Association was completed and J.R. Hughes was elected the first president. On May 7, 1888 the third floor of the Collins block on the Northwest corner of the public square was leased. The YMCA rooms consisted of a chapel-hall for meetings, a parlor for socials and entertainment, a reading room and another large room, equipped with some gymnasium equipment. The gymnasium was not a success due to the weak construction of the building and the complaints of the people below. The program consisted of Sunday afternoon religious meetings, educational classes, a lecture course, and a literary society.
I.R. Longworth was elected president in 1893 and under his administration $32,170 was pledged for a new building that was constructed on the northeast corner of Market and Elizabeth streets.
As early as 1910 the Board sensed that the present building was going to be inadequate for the fast-growing city of Lima and they began making plans for a new building. F.E. Eberhardth had become the General Secretary and under his leadership the program had grown substantially. R.J. Plate was again elected president in 1914 (having previously served from 1906 to 1912) to furnish the leadership for the campaign to finance the anticipated new building.
At this time Mr. Plate started one of the longest terms as president of a YMCA in the country. Mr. Plate was a charter member of the Lima YMCA, a member of its Board in 1894, and its treasurer for eight years before his first term as president. He served as president until January, 1948, a total of 40 years. In 1948 he became Chairman of the Board of Trustees and remained in that position until his death on June 6, 1965. At the the dedication of the new YMCA building on February 16, 1919, it was written in the dedication services; “This record would not be complete without mention of the men who were primarily responsible for securing the funds for this great building. First among these men is Robert J. Plate, the President of the Association who, by his tireless energy and fine enthusiasm, secured the major portion of the large gifts which made the financial campaign a success.” He was primarily responsible for building a substantial endowment to help with the ongoing program of the Lima YMCA. He gave the first $100,000 to start the new building addition to the YMCA, which was dedicated on May 19, 1963 as the “ROBERT J. PLATE YOUTH BUILDING.”
The new building was constructed on the corner of Spring and West Streets. It contained offices, a youth lobby and an adult lobby, locker rooms, gym, pool, cafeteria, bowling alleys, 87 residence rooms, and several meeting rooms. The cost was some $160,000.
In June 1966 C. Carl May retired and E. E. Cornwell, executive director of the Alliance, Ohio YMCA and a former physical and Program director of the Lima YMCA was appointed Executive Director. Once again new leadership brought up-to-date changes in the operation. It now became a family operation with full service to all members of the family. In September 1971, the first woman professional staff person was employed.
Under the management of the Trustees the residence rooms were rehabilitated and other repairs to the building made. Additional land was purchased for parking and two platform tennis courts were erected.