From the beginning of operations in the Jenkins Kentucky area. The Consolidation Coal Company expressed determination to build a Young Men’s Christian Association or YMCA.
There was a strong need and desire for a place to relax and find some form of entertainment among the young men working on the construction project. So when Consolidation announced its intention to build and open the YMCA it was met with great enthusiasm. Not only by the men CONSOL had brought in for the construction but by the local population as well. Consolidation’s announcement gave the opening of the YMCA in 1912. But because the enthusiasm and anticipation of the workers and local people to have a place to relax and spend their leisure hours was so great. Consolidation agreed to designate one of the temporary construction buildings as the YMCA.
A large temporary structure was then set aside for the Association in December of 1911. During the evening hours, the building often drew large numbers of people. The YMCA often featured movies and other central attractions. Those and the variety of other amusement features available nowhere else, made the town and the YMCA a very desirable destination in Letcher County.
There are many features that the YMCA offers to the men of the area. For personal hygiene and care including a well-equipped bathroom with hot and cold water. There is a barbershop available that offers first-class service. Bowling alleys and a billiard room helped to provide entertainment.
For educational resources, the Young Men’s Christian Association provides a very spacious auditorium for Sunday School and other religious services that will be held. Every Sunday morning and evening the YMCA hosts various denominations for regular services. This is done by arrangement with the representatives of the local churches.
On weekdays, the auditorium provides ample room for moving picture entertainment and stereopticon (slide projector), lectures, and is filled.
With the advent of the railroad, the YMCA hopes to arrange for a series of lyceum entertainments of educational value. Lyceum entertainments can include but are not limited to dramatic performances, class instruction, debates, noted lecturers, entertainers, and readers to encourage the moral fabric of society.
A soda fountain that serves both soft drinks and ice cream is provided in the building. This soda fountain is suitable to serve large numbers of people daily.
While not for entertainment only, the building also provides for services in which it is intended. With the building being only six months old, the YMCA holds two evening classes. One class is for the mine supervisors for their state examinations. There are twelve classes held before the exam which will be held in March of 1913.
The other class that will be held is for the non-English speaking workers who wish to learn the language. The class is held twice a week in the building for all who have a desire to learn how to speak the English Language.
To keep up with current events, a broad range of diverse magazines and newspapers are available and on sale at the counter for reasonable prices. Before too long, a circulating library will be installed that will provide books to the men.
With an enormous range of useful services to the community of Jenkins, Kentucky, the YMCA wishes to continue serving the area as the need arises.
This concludes the article on the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Building of 1912.
We thank you for continuing to support Kentucky Tennessee Living as we bring to you the history of the Appalachian Mountains. It is with a deep appreciation and gratitude that we wish to thank all of those who have stuck with us and encouraged us through the very hard times.
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The photos were taken from the Mountain Eagle Publication 1912 which is under the Public Domain because it was published before 1923. We use these photos in good faith under the fair use act as well as for educational purposes.
The Mountain Eagle Newspaper publication
June 6, 1912
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When we forget our past and who we are as a people, then we become who “they” say we are. ~~ David Sergent
I have attended the University of Kentucky. I have an Associates Degree from Hazard Community College and Technical School. I have also attended the University of Pikeville. I have taken several classes in Journalism as well as in the Appalachian History, Literature, and Sociology during my time at those schools.
I was born in Florida and grew up in Burdine, Kentucky. I have been married to David W. Sergent since May 4, 2013. I have two children and four grandchildren from a previous marriage. I currently live in Tennessee but my hope is to one day come back home to live in the beautiful mountains once more.