In the winter of 1892-1893, Ernest Whitney, a teacher at Yale College, here because of his health, brought several boys into his home to “improve them and keep them off the streets.” When his poor health interfered, the circle of the King’s Daughters Organization stepped in with Mrs. Elizabeth Goddard leading. She became the first president of the Boy’s Club Association when it was formed in 1896. She recruited H. Buchanan Riley, Oxford College graduate and teacher at the Colorado Springs High School to begin meeting the boys one night a week. Yet soon they were meeting six nights a week.
There are two overriding themes with the early Boys Club: to keep the boys occupied and off the streets and to direct their energy into developmental learning. Early on they were taught Sloyd, a handcraft skillset using a special “Sloyd” knife to develop wood and paper working skills, thus developing mind and hand coordination from simple to complex. The early boys were also taught some military tactics.
In the early years, land was donated by General Palmer, and funds were raised to open the first Boy’s Club buiding on South Tejon Street in 1907. Later, El Pomar Foundation generously donated funds to expand the operations of the club. In 1984, the original downtown bulding was closed and replaced by the Eleanor Armit Tutt Branch on South Chelton Road. Believe it or not, the Colorado Springs club was the first in the state to admit girls in 1987! Thereafter, the name was changed to the Boys and Girls Club.
The history of the Boys Club Association is filled with many dedicated women who served as presidents of the organization, did fundraising, developed the library and in general were the main force that kept the organization going – their dedication cannot be overstated.
Generously Submitted by John Orsborn, CSPM Volunteer Educator