This week marks the 100th anniversary of the date (November 26, 1908) that President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the Twelfth Street Colored Y.M.C.A. Branch building in Washington, D.C.
In a formal ceremony involving “many prominent persons of both the white and colored races,” Roosevelt spread the first trowelful of mortar on the foundation for the stone. As the proceedings continued, the chief executive looked around and asked an African American workman who was standing nearby to come up to the front.
“Come here; I want to shake hands with you,” Roosevelt commanded. Turning to the crowd, he continued, “I always like to shake hands with the man behind the gun — the man that does the work.”
Later, a local official remarked, “In this District, where there is a larger and better colored population than anywhere else, the colored branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association has great opportunity and great promise.”
The building was designed by African American architect William Sidney Pittman, the son-in-law of Booker T. Washington.
It officially opened in April, 1912.
The beautifully restored structure is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
It’s home to the impressive Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage.
What’s cool is that they rebuilt the original interior, so walking inside is like going back in time.
If you’re planning be in D.C., why not stop by this wonderful site?
It’s at 1816 Twelfth Street, N.W., between S Street and T Street.