History of the Thurgood Marshall Center
The Thurgood Marshall Center is located in the historic Twelfth Street YMCA building, the former home of the first full service YMCA for African Americans in the nation. It was designed by one of the nation's first African-American architects, W. Sidney Pittman, son-in-law of Booker T. Washington and was built largely by African-American artisans.
Construction started in 1908 and was completed in 1912. During this time, President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone.
For seventy years, this building was a haven and an inspiration for young African-American men. These men learned leadership and responsibility through sports, camping, photography, and many enriching activities.
Through the years, youth from the community were engaged in many constructive activities led by mentors who volunteered their time.
In this building, African-American community groups and social clubs convened when segregation excluded them from hotels and other public meeting places. The building was a focal point of the Shaw Community, including the popular U Street Corridor, as it turned hopes into reality.