The Whiting Family YMCA was pleased with the Saturday, September 28, turnout for tours of its home, the historic Whiting Community Center. Those who participated paid twenty dollars each for the opportunity for a guided tour of the 96-year-old building. All proceeds from the day went to the Whiting YMCA Financial Assistance Program. Last year, that program spent more than $76,000 to make sure that everyone in the community could participate in the Y’s programs and memberships regardless of their ability to pay.
Saturday’s tours started in the Community Room, off the main lobby. Whiting-Robertsdale Historical Society Vice-President Frank Vargo gave a brief history of Whiting and told the story of how the Community Center came to be. From there, participants were divided into four groups and taken to different parts of the building.
They were taken to the ground floor, where Historical Society President Al Koch told them stories, based on personal experience, of his time as a pinsetter in the days when the Community Center bowling alley had the pins manually re-set. He also showed them the tunnels beneath the Community Center.
Dave Dabertin led the tour of the 800-seat auditorium, where plays, concerts, and Standard Oil stockholder meetings once took place. Mark Harbin led tours of the gymnasium and told stories of a rich history there, which included basketball legend John Wooden and baseball great Lou Boudreau. Historical Society Secretary John Hmurovic led tours of the Memorial Room, dedicated to the service of those who served in World War One. He also took visitors to the rarely seen apartment at the top of the Community Center, which was the home of past superintendents of the building.
There was also an Historic Flea Market held at the Community Center at the same time. Visitors got the chance to buy old Whiting street signs, pieces of the Community Center’s wooden bowling lanes, the original “WP” posts that once lined the road through Whiting Park, bricks from city streets, and more. Proceeds from the sale went to a fund for a future Whiting Historical Museum.