MSU celebrates renovation of historic YMCA Building with ribbon cutting

Contact: Allison Matthews

MSU officials celebrating the completed renovation of the university’s historic YMCA Building with a Tuesday [July 31] ribbon cutting were, from left, Vice President for Campus Services Amy Tuck; General Counsel Joan Lucas; Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt; Belinda Stewart of Belinda Stewart Architects; MSU President Mark E. Keenum; MSU Vice President for Finance and CFO Don Zant; and Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State officials celebrated the renovation of the university’s historic YMCA Building with a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday [July 31].

Built in 1914 and opened in 1915, the 28,000-square-foot YMCA was designated a Mississippi Landmark Building by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in 1985.

The Young Men’s Christian Association originally organized a chapter at Mississippi A&M in 1882. The chapter’s first president, Buz Walker, went on to become Mississippi State’s seventh president from 1925 to 1930. As YMCA membership grew and activities expanded, the need for a building arose. A $40,000 pledge from John D. Rockefeller and a successful student-led fundraising campaign for an additional $20,000 made the facility possible.

“Today, the YMCA Building remains a center of activity in the heart of our historic campus after a comprehensive renovation that has preserved its landmark character while modernizing its functionality for students, faculty, staff and visitors,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum.

The architectural firm for the original building was Overstreet, Spencer and Paine of Jackson, which included A&M graduate N.W. Overstreet. It was built by Lindamood and Puckett of Columbus, a forerunner to the Columbus Brick Company.

In addition to the YMCA, the building also was home for many years to the campus post office, now housed in the Roberts Building.

After a $9.8 million renovation, the YMCA Building is home to the Dean of Students and College of Arts and Sciences faculty on the first floor; the Vice President for Student Affairs on the second floor; and the Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer and the Office of General Counsel on the third floor.

MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt said her office is proud to continue the tradition of maintaining a welcoming atmosphere where students can return.

“For many years, the YMCA was a place students could come to get involved. Now, our students can utilize this space to seek information and resources. It’s a space that feels very warm and comfortable,” Hyatt said.

Vice President for Finance and CFO Don Zant said he has admired the building for more than 20 years, since his first days on campus.

“I loved the uniqueness and beauty of this building, from the green clay tiles to the porches. I loved it back then, and I’m thrilled that my office is here now,” Zant said.

The YMCA Building renovation, which earned a preservation award from the Mississippi Heritage Trust, was designed by Eupora-based Belinda Stewart Architects.

“We wanted to honor the building and the original architect’s intent,” said Stewart, giving credit to team leader Holly Hawkins and other team members. She said much planning was involved to discover the opportunities the structure presented.

“It’s wonderful just walking in and seeing the celebration now. This kind of structure has a significant influence on the people who use and occupy the building,” the MSU alumna added.

Gregory Construction of Columbus served as general contractor for the renovation project.

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