Reconstruction of the Witherspoon Branch Y

Albert De Martin, photographer

Collection of the Historical Society of Princeton

Gift of Youth Communications Inc., in Memory of F.G. Clark, 1996

‌The fire which devastated the Witherspoon Y branch building started from an over-heated furnace. A December 1936 letter to the editor of the “Princeton Herald” noted that “insurance on the old building was not sufficient to pay the cost of a new one and that officials of the Y.M.C.A are obliged to seek additional funds.” In 1938, the Town Club, owner of the building, deeded the property to Princeton Borough for the purposed of a Witherspoon Community House, in which the “Colored Y” (as the Herald described it) would be assured of space.

By 1939, $57,000 provided by the federal government through the Works Project Administration helped to construct an entirely new building on the site. The new Y continued to serve as the community center for Princeton’s African-American residents into the mid-twentieth century.