YWCA’s History

The YWCA Knoxville has been serving women and their families since 1899.

Originally, the YWCA Knoxville used space over a store on Gay Street. YWCAIn 1914, members created and sold a special edition of the News Sentinel to raise funds toward the purchase of the Brown home on Clinch and Walnut, where we taught classes, provided the only housing for women in the city, and opened the Blue Triangle Tea Room. The YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center, a facility for Black women, opened in 1920.

Replacing the Brown home, the current facility was erected in 1925. In addition to more rooms for women, we added the Girl Reserves (later known as Y-Teens), an employment bureau, gym classes, sewing room, and transit services.

In 1954, the current Phyllis Wheatley facility was built, and the organization started Camp Tri-Point on Lake Loudon approximately two decades later, increasing opportunities for youth. Soon after, the YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center developed the After-School Program and Senior Network. Later, the facility would become home to all YWCA youth programs.

In 1985, the YWCA presented the first annual Tribute to Women, recognizing the achievements of East Tennessee women. The late 80s saw the formation of the innovative Victim Advocacy Program, and the mid-90s kicked off the Race Against Racism. Since then, the YWCA Knoxville has developed racial justice programming and health and fitness services for low-income individuals and families.

Offerings have changed over the years to meet community needs, but one thing has remained the same for more than 100 years; women from all walks of life depend on our services.YWCA

Women come to us in times of crisis, as survivors of rape or domestic violence, and for housing as they transition to a permanent living situation. We work to help them become independent by providing career counseling and support. They come for help meeting health-related goals. They come for after-school and summer programming for their children. They come for a variety of reasons. But they come, and they leave with a renewed spirit, new skills, and stronger lives.

We keep women going. And because we understand the importance of women’s leadership, we work hard to train future leaders through our youth programs. The YWCA Knoxville is committed to improving the lives of women and girls and to enhancing this great community.