Chattanooga's old YMCA

Trip Start May 07, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Saturday, November 1, 2008

I've spent a lot of time in Chattanooga lately (mostly laying the groundwork for a gallery exhibit and getting permission to photograph some of the buildings downtown). My persistence has finally paid off.

Yesterday, I was introduced to Jack Kruesi, the current owner, and former member, of the old YMCA on Mitchell Street on Chattanooga's Southside. What a great guy! He even took me over to Zarzour's Cafe for a burger (that's a whole other great story altogether!)

Jack was kind enough to give me a tour of the 1920s-era YMCA and leave me alone to "work my magic" for the whole day. The images that you see here are some examples of just 4 hours of shooting (and I only covered about 1/8th of the building!)

These images are also the first series that I'm considering doing primarily in color. Yes, I said it... IN COLOR! Most of my work is black and white or sepia toned, and I've been a proponent of simplicity and a believer that color can have a tendency to distract the eye from the critical elements of design that make up a good photograph.
However, in this instance, these contrasts of sickly greens, blues, and yellows tend to enhance the cold, stark, lonley abandonment that this structure puts forth.

I love this place. And, I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I do.
Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
BABS, my Big Ass Bus!


tnwaltz on

Thank you for posting the photographs of the Old YMCA on Mitchell Street in Chattanooga, TN. These photographs brought back memories of my childhood as I spent many days in this building. My father worked practically all his life in Hatfield & Keef Furniture, which was at 55 E. Main Street. His store caught fire in 1956 and the top floor was demolished leaving it with only 3 floors. The building now has a restaurant on the bottom floor and lofts on the upper floors.

I went by the old YMCA just yesterday and am happy to hear that Jack Kruesi will renovate it and bring back it's dignity, pride and glory. Thanks again for the wonderful photographs.

holtwebb on

Re: Old YMCA
Believe me, it was my pleasure. :-)

I look forward to taking more soon.

I'll be putting together a gallery exhibit of a lot of the 'forgotten' places in Chattanooga and the surrounding towns (including the YMCA). It will likely go up some time after the first of the year. If you're interested in seeing it, check on the Vanishing America website ( after January 1, 2009.

Have you heard of Chattanooga's old YMCA 'club' of former members? I think their next meeting is in May.

tnwaltz on

I will definitely sign back in after January '09 to see additional photographs. No, I have not heard about the YMCA Members' Club but if I am in Chattanooga when they meet in May, I would enjoy attending the meeting.

Keep up the good work. It's great there are people like you who have an interest in vanishing America.

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