History of YWCA NEIN

This is YWCA Northeast Indiana’s timeline

  • 1894 – The YWCA of Fort Wayne was organized & first met at the Hamilton Homestead on East Lewis Street. Founded as a safe place for working women to meet.
  • 1897 – YWCA incorporated & acquired the former Bass home on West Berry Street.
  • 1911 – An influx of women working in the city required more residential space. 300 volunteers raised the funds to build a larger facility on 325 W. Wayne Street.
  • 1915 – YWCA opened the first cafeteria in Fort Wayne, eventually serving 800 meals a day.
  • 1924 – The first swimming pool in Fort Wayne was built at the YWCA, as a part of a new free health center for women.
  • 1930s – YWCA closed its cafeteria so that the Red Cross could use the dining room for work relief projects during the Great Depression.
  • 1940s – During the war, YWCA served as a liaison for servicemen’s wives & war workers.
  • 1960s – YWCA offered Fort Wayne’s first Black history class & developed sports programs for mentally & physically handicapped children.
  • 1976 – YWCA opened the doors of the first shelter for abused women in the state of IN, as a response to a 1975 YWCA study which named domestic violence as a major problem in the community.
  • 1977-1978 – Faced with serious space issues, YWCA sold its 60-year-old home and purchased the St. Vincent’s Villa Orphanage on Wells Street.
  • 1981 – Byron Somers Pool & Athletic facility opened, creating the first local handicap-accessible 25-yard pool.
  • 1986 – A new Women’s Shelter was built off campus at an undisclosed location to house women & children victims of domestic violence requiring shelter. The YWCA Women’s Shelter became the largest in the state & the only one designed specifically for its purpose at that time.
  • 1988 – The YWCA began offering outreach services to domestic violence victims in our northeast Indiana service area. Another expansion was planned to enlarge & improve the Athletic Facility.
  • 1990 – The YWCA opened the doors of the Self-Sufficiency Program for women who are ready to reclaim their lives after abusive relationships.
  • 2004 – Refocusing the agency on its mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, the Board closed the Athletic Facility & put the campus up for sale.
  • 2005-2006 – The Board positioned the agency for further growth in the areas of Domestic Violence Services, economic empowerment of women, racial justice training, membership & volunteer opportunities.
  • 2007 – The administrative offices were moved to 1610 Spy Run Avenue.
  • 2009 – YWCA of Fort Wayne became YWCA Northeast Indiana, signaling the agency’s commitment to serving communities outside of the city, in Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells, & Whitley counties.
  • 2015 – YWCA Northeast Indiana and Hope House, Inc. formally merge operations.
  • 2016 – YWCA Northeast Indiana broke ground on a new facility allowing for the co-location of the domestic violence crisis shelter, administrative offices & all other YWCA programs.
  • 2017 – YWCA Northeast Indiana became fully operational in it’s newly renovated facility with all services located under one roof.
  • 2018 – YWCA expands to absorb Dress For Success Fort Wayne, Transitions (addictions treatment) and REACT (sexual assault counseling), all formerly of the Women’s Bureau.
  • 2019 – YWCA Northeast Indiana celebrates its 125th Anniversary of service to the region!
  • 2020-YWCA Northeast Indiana acquires the former Hall’s Guesthouse located at 1313 W. Washington Center Road as our new home.
  • 2021-Renovations begin on our new home. Harriet House moves from Fairfield location to Decatur Road location so that all of our recovery services are under one roof. Dress for Success moves to our new home, The Hefner Center, at 1313 W. Washington Road.

YWCA Northeast Indiana timeline