223 12 Avenue SW
The Calgary Y.W.C.A. was organized in 1907 by a group of women headed by Katherine Underwood, and included Emily Kerby, Elizabeth MacDougall, and Alice Jamieson. The women strove to overcome prevailing social attitudes which made it very difficult for young, single women to find living accommidations. Katherine Underwood was elected president of the Association and in November 1907 the group rented a house at 222 15 Avenue SW for use as a hotel. The success of this project led the group to purchase land in 1909 and erect a permanent building.
The present building was constructed in 1910-1911 and is distinguished for being the oldest, purpose-built, social service facility in the City of Calgary. Katherine Underwood's husband Thomas Underwood, was a distinguished buisinessman, politician, developerand church leader; he was responsibel for developing the Western and Underwood Blocks and also served as Mayor of Calgary from 1901-1903. Many of Calgary's most prominent women have been associated with the Y.W.C.A. over the years.
The Y.W.C.A. is the best example in Calgary of Institutional Georgian Revival architecture. Its attractive brick facade with sandstone trim has a projecting bay (formerly a two-storey wodden verandah, but subsequently altered) capped by a pediment. The roof is clad in metal, which was quite indicative of institutional buildings of the time. The building was unusual for having an indoor pool in the basement . This was removed in 1945-1950, when the annex was built to the west (Stevenson & Raines architects, now the Beltline Community Recreation Centre).
The building was used for numerous social and cultural functions over the years, including a current events club operated here by Nellie McClung. It was used to billet soldiers during the Second World War. The Y.W.C.A. left this building in 1971 for a new facility, and the property was aquired by the City of Calgary. It now serves as the Old "Y" Centre for Community Organizations, thus continuing the social service function of the structure. The building was designated a Provincial Historical Resource in 1980.