Project Description

The Western Branch YMCA was built in 1927 at 1601 Clark Avenue, near the corner of Vernor Highway, in Detroit’s Clark Park on the city’s southwest side.  The Western Branch YMCA was named the “Western Branch” because it was located on Detroit’s west side.  The Western Branch YMCA was designed by noted-Detroit architects Malcomson and Higginbotham, in a Spanish Romanesque style.  The building was a mostly brick, 5- story structure, with  parapet balconies under the top floor windows.  The interior of the Western Branch YMCA features a weight room, gymnasium, swimming pool, handball/racquetball courts, game rooms, multiple fireplaces, a fountain, and ornate Pewabic Pottery tiles throughout the design.  The upper floors were all rooms that were used by the YMCA staff and members.

In the 1980’s, membership at Western Branch YMCA was starting to gradually decrease.  Western Branch YMCA was struggling to get the younger residents of Detroit to join the YMCA.  Most of the members at Western Branch YMCA had been members for many years and/or their families had been members for many years.  The Western Branch YMCA partnered with the Michigan Department of Corrections around 1990.  The Michigan Department of Corrections ran the parole offices out of the upper floors.  The Michigan Department of Corrections were the last tenants to use the Western Branch YMCA.

In 2002, the Western Branch YMCA was finally closed for good.  The Michigan Department of Corrections parole offices moved to Lawton on Detroit’s west side, where they are still located today.  Western Branch YMCA was subsequently vacant and it has remained abandoned.

As of 2015, there are no current plans for the abandoned building.