History of the Chester Family YMCA

The Chester Branch waited a long time for a facility of its own.  The Chester Family YMCA began organizing in 1977, thanks to the vigorous activities of Chesterfield County residents Janet Shumate and Yale E. Brandt.  This led to the time-tested method of creating YMCA branches: fostering local support, forming an organizational committee and running programs from a temporary facility.  The Chester Branch operated as an extension of the South Richmond-Chesterfield branch (now called the Manchester Family YMCA).

In September 1978, the new organization leased a store-front at 4410 W. Hundred Road.  This operation had a two-member staff by January 1979 and received its charter from YMCA of the USA in 1980.  The storefront allowed the Y to offer many activities, including preschool summer camp, children's soccer, tennis, men's basketball, swimming and more.

By 1983, they'd hit a limit and leaders knew if they wanted to do more, it needed to expand.  In 1984 the decision was made to get a permanent facility.  This led in 1986 to the acquisition of land on Route 10 in Chesterfield County.  Because construction was not imminent and serves remained in demand, the branch moved in 1987 from the storefront to larger, leased quarters at 4211 Old Hundred Road.  That same year the branch opened Camp Chester.

In May 1989, the Y broke ground for a facility.  Within a few months, local leaders recognized the need for a youth program center not planned for in the new structure then under construction.  So the Chester Branch held a "Youth Center Barn Raising", a 2,400-square-foot facility slated for completion in autumn.  Construction ended on the larger building within months and the new branch formally opened in February 1990.

This facility allowed for a rapid increase in programming, particularly youth-oriented ones.  In fact, branch usage was so strong that in 1992 a meter plan was developed for future expansions.  Over time, this led to several major additions.

Throughout the 1990s, the Chester Family YMCA added an 18,000-square-foot gym and child care facility.  In the new century, growth has continued with a new 6,000-square-foot fitness center and child care nursery area.

The text was taken from the book "The Richmond YMCA: 150 Years of Innovation and Service for Central Virginia" by Edward R. Crews.