YWCA Greater Charleston


The History of the Charleston YWCA

The YWCA's history spans 100 years in the lowcountry area and is as rich and varied as Charleston itself. The organization's reinventions through the years came about in the face of challenges, both internal and external, as well as opportunities. Since 1969, the YWCA of Greater Charleston, Inc. has been the only YWCA in the trident area. It continues to provide programs and services for all people that support its mission to empower women and eliminate racism.

1907 - A group of women of the YWCA Women's Auxiliary founded the Coming Street YWCA on July 4, 1907.
The first president of the Coming Street YWCA was Mrs. Felicia Goodwin, the grandmother of Herbert U. Fielding, Judge Bernard R. Fielding, Timothy Fielding and the late Emily F. Fielding. The women bought the first building in 1911 for $3,000. The new YWCA received state and national charters and functioned as a separate entity for 13 years.

1920 - The National YWCA guided the Coming Street YWCA into becoming a branch of the Central YWCA on Society Street.
During 1918-1920, the Board of Coming Street YWCA faced challenge in paying its debt from the 1911 building purchase. Thus, the National YWCA negotiated with the Coming Street YWCA to become a branch of the Central YWCA in 1920 and paid off the Coming Street YWCA's building mortgage. The Coming Street YWCA Branch used its facility as temporary headquarters for the War Work Council. The Coming Street Branch YWCA functioned as a branch of the Central YWCA for 49 years between 1920 and 1969.

1967 - Objecting to the National YWCA's support of various public policy issues during 1966 and 1967, the George Street YWCA voted to disaffiliate from the National YWCA. The leaders of the Coming Street YWCA branch and other community leaders met and initiated plans to re-organize a community YWCA.

On June 3, 1967, the Coming Street Branch YWCA held an organizational meeting to initiate plans for a new Community YWCA. The volunteer attorneys guiding the new YWCA were Attorneys Bernard R. Fielding, Ellis I. Kahn, and Bernard R. Solomon. Ellis I. Kahn suggested a new name for the Coming Street YWCA: The YWCA of Greater Charleston was born.

The National Board of the YWCA of the USA voted to disaffiliate the Charleston YWCA on March 15, 1969. In turn, The YWCA of Greater Charleston, Inc. received state and national charters in March 1969 and February 1970, respectively, to become the only YWCA in the trident area.