Community Center History

The Catskill Community Center began as a YMCA as early as 1909.

In March of 1939, Alex Grossman founded the Catskill Boys Club in the former YMCA building. By 1962, Sam Millman was the Boys Club Director. This photograph was taken “before the disastrous fire that peeled one story off the big brick building.”
In 1957, a fire caused an estimated $300,000 in damage to the building, destroying the top floor. According to the above news article, “State Troopers J.R. Garrett and William Wolfe discovered the blaze at 2:30 A.M. while passing in a patrol car. By 3 A.M. the flames had spread from the front stairway.” Other nearby buildings were also damaged or destroyed in the fire, including the Catskill Army and Navy Store, Ben Hartmann and Son Jewelers, Decker’s Pharmacy, and at least two others.
By 1969, missing its top floor but otherwise recovered from the fire, the Catskill Boys Club had “a paid, full-time professional director,” Norman Zecca. The President of the Board that year was local attorney Alan Ruf, “one of Catskill’s most versatile and leading citizens.” Activities offered included “Little League and Minor league baseball, Touch Football league, Bowling league, arts and crafts, shop and woodworking, photography, games, boxing, wrestling, basketball,” and more.
Another program of the Catskill Boys Club was the Drum Corps pictured above.
The Boys Club later became the Boys and Girls Club and then the Catskill Community Center. The article above mentions a summer recreation program that included sports, field trips, swimming, arts and crafts, photography, and Girl Scouts activities.
The Community Center closed in 2005 due to lack of funding, but reopened in 2006 thanks to a major fundraising campaign spearheaded by children’s book author Hudson Talbott and other local citizens.

A community garden, which has been relocated several times, has been one of many Community Center projects since its 2006 reopening.
Our “Summer Fun” recreation program, five weeks of outdoor activities for K-5 children, is still a popular Community Center program.