“The History of a Dream”

In the 1950’s Mr. Ira McDowell gathered a group of men together to raise the money necessary to buy property and build a Boys’ Club in Albany, OR. On September 29, 1959, the Albany Boys Club Board of Directors voted to purchase the Hill Street site for $7,500. The Board minutes of the year state, “It became apparent that a building to suit the needs of the organization on the property we now own would leave little room for expansion and outside athletic facilities.” (Little did they know!) In January 1960, adjacent property was purchased from Mr. J.C. Reed for $6,500.

Ground breaking was held on March 19, 1965. Two different Executive Directors were hired but left before the Club officially opened. In September 1966, Ron Loney was employed on a temporary basis to help get the building finished and to operate a program. From September to December, the Board worked at a frantic pace, holding painting parties and putting the finishing touches on the building. As a Christmas present to the community, the Albany Boys Club opened its doors on December 26, 1966, with 488 boy members.

In 1979, two events took place that had a significant impact on the Albany Boys Club. The Club took over middle school athletic programs and the Y-City Girls Sports Program. Not only did the membership dramatically increase, but girls, for the first time, were allowed membership in the Club. The Albany Boys Club became the Albany Boys and Girls Club to reflect that change – much ahead of its time.

With a membership of over 2,000 boys and girls, the need for more space and for locker rooms for girls became apparent. From a sketch drawn on a napkin by Executive Director Ron Loney, the plans for a new addition started forming. Just as the earlier Board of Directors had done, the current board sought donations and volunteer labor to construct the new 15,800 sq. ft addition. In order to accommodate the new building, the baseball field was moved to the back of the property, lights and all!

On March 2, 1984, the new addition was dedicated. The Albany Boys & Girls Club facility was approximately 33,000 sq. feet with the addition of a larger gym, girls’ shower, restrooms, offices, boardroom, upstairs gymnastics room, and lobby. In 1993, a middle school program was established and the former upstairs gymnastics room was remodeled and readied for use by sixth, seventh and eighth grade members.

In June of 1999, the Board began another chapter in the Club’s history. A Capital Campaign raised $3,950,000 to fund a 35,000 square foot expansion. Completed in the fall of 2001, the new “Ron and Diane Loney Building” was built on the remaining ball field space and contained two full-sized gymnasiums, classrooms, offices, concession stand, a high school room, and new lobby. Other areas were modernized and remodeled, most notably, a room for the Computer Tech Center.

In 2010, the Board of Directors were faced to serve an overwhelming 400 children every night, including the Timber Ridge School site. The Club was at a point where we could not physically handle any more bodies.

Fortunately, Club staff, the Board of Directors, and community supporters agreed that turning any child away was NOT an option. The Club has a history of responding to the most pressing needs of our community’s youth, especially now when they need us most.

As of August 2013, age appropriate useful spaces were completed. This Capital Campaign supported the expansion of our original 1964 building to serve kindergarten through third grade in one area. Remodeled usable space included a full sized cafeteria, expansion of the literacy/education center, arts & crafts room, and a teaching kitchen to expand our nutrition program. In addition, the previously used space by our middle and high school members upstairs became designated space for our fourth and fifth grade program. The remodel added an education room, art room, and dance studio.

A new 40,000 sq. ft. Bill & Di O’Bryan Building housing the Charlie Weaver Athletic Complex and the Hull Family Teen Center was built allowing additional athletic programs, such as indoor soccer, to be implemented. A wing dedicated to teens attending the after-school program was also included, giving teens their own designated space. Teens now have their own games room, gym, education center, art room, technology room, and high school room.