310 North Main Street
The Y.M.C.A. (Young Men’s Christian Association) is the second structure ever to be located on this site since Auburn’s founding in 1836. Prior to the completion of the YMCA in 1914, the site was occupied by a frame tavern and hotel known as the Auburn House dating from the city’s earliest days. The Auburn House was acquired by Charles Eckhart, and his son Frank, of the Auburn Automobile Company and Eckhart Carriage Company with the goal of constructing a YMCA for the community. The YMCA building would be the second major public instruction gift by Charles Eckhart shortly before his death. The senior Eckhart was a devout Prohibitionist, and desired to build a facility that would be dubbed as “Auburn’s Character Plant” upon its dedication by providing a safe, clean, comfortable, wholesome, and affordable housing option for young men surrounded by Christian principles, access to extended learning opportunities on site, and recreational amenities to strengthen one’s mind, body, and spirit. No alcohol was allowed at the site which was in keeping with Mr. Eckhart’s anti-liquor stance.
The Eckharts provided the vast majority of the funding for the building that totaled over $35,000 at the time, and utilized the internationally known YMCA architectural firm of Shattuck and Hussey of Chicago to design the Dutch Colonial inspired building which is largely distinguished by its gambrel shaped roof line. The building originally contained a gymnasium, sleeping rooms, shower and bath facilities, exercise rooms, classrooms, and bowling alley. The building served as a home to many Auburn Auto Company employees ranging from engineers to laborers on the assembly line. The building is listed to the National Register of Historic Places and ceased operating as the YMCA in 2014.