The Blue Triangle (formally the first branch of Houston’s YWCA), was founded (1919) during World War I. This basis of this organization grew out of the pressing need for a central meeting place where women and girls of color could safely meet, learn and recreate. It opened at 806 Clay Ave. in the old Masonic Building, under the War Work Council, sponsored by the National YWCA. We were organized 1918, by Ms. Josephine Pinyon of New York City, with Mrs. B.J. Covington, chairman and Ms. Ruby Craig, executive secretary. After two years of satisfactory services to the community, an official application to the Central Association for Branch relationship. The application was approved and request was granted, February 1920. Our programs began.
The first major project was to develop a campsite, which had been made available. This provided area for recreation, picnics, fishing, crabbing and a summer home with conveniences. The site was located 25 miles from downtown Houston on the bay, La Port Texas. In 1921, plans were made for a residence, where young women and girls would find a Christian environment at reasonable prices. The house (12 rooms), opened at 406 Sauliner, Street. Fund raising efforts of the membership, churches and friends provided funds. The home accommodated 12-15 girls. Once again the residence moved to 2104 Hutchins St. In 1930, an activity center and cafeteria was opened 608 Louisiana Street along with the Hutchins Street residence.
The national depression resulted in having to turn to Social Services for relief. In 1935, there were 20 paid members which resulted in residence closure. (avg. wage-for domestic workers, was $36.00/month). During 1935, the operating funds were insufficient to maintain the facilities however, youth memberships were drastically increased. Blue Triangle Branch memberships were high and activities were planned for those with little income. There were 907 Girl Reserves and 207 adults in clubs and classes. By 1936, emergency relief was discontinued. More people volunteered services and the paid membership increased to 140.The cafeteria closed during that year.
During the Depression, the Branch became an employment agency-many girls and women registered to work. This service continued until the early 1940’s when defense industries began to employ large numbers of women. Fewer calls for household and domestic workers lessened the need for the employment agency. At the end of the war, the project continued until 1948. Houston Y leased 1419 Live Oak St. for Blue Triangle during 1940.Programs for girls 9 to 12 yrs. of age, with Y-Teens and young employed women. The dream “of a building of our own” was begun. A group of (10) women in the community organized and purchased land- 3000 McGowen St. for $1000. After the purchase, the property was deeded to Houston YWCA. The City of Houston Community Chest gave permission to hold a Capital Funds drive 1948, with Ms. Sylvia Coleman, chair. The funds provided for an Activity Center. Construction began summer of 1950 and was completed December 1951. Programs and activities for children and adults, daycare, Bible Class, art, drama and dance classes continued many years. Leisure learning and social activities made Blue Triangle “the social spot” for Houston’s people of color. Breakfast With Santa, and Reunion Dinners were annual events. Life Memberships, Silver and Gold Members – many of whom were sponsored by organizations, churches, civic groups and fraternal organizations provided funding to benefit Program and operations.
Houston Y lost United Way funding , prompting the sale of each of the branches. July 28, 1998, Kathy Johnson, Chair of Committee on Administration for Blue Triangle Branch, presented to the Houston Metropolitan Board of Directors a letter of agreement and recommendation to keep Blue Triangle open to the community. She further requested that Blue Triangle Branch YWCA Building be turned over to the newly organized Blue Triangle Multi-Cultural Association, Inc., at a cost of $1.00. The majority of this community group were Life Members of Houston YWCA, who wanted to preserve the history, tradition and programs in Third Ward community. Inclusive rites and ownership of the Art of Dr. John Biggers and real property located 2805 Berry St. would complete the request. January 2000, Blue Triangle M. C. A. Inc. became the new owners of 3005 Mc Gowen Building. The appraised $1.4 mil. and the appraised mural in Suite 15 is $1.mil. Antique furnishings appraised at approximately $4,500.00. New owners cleaned, repaired the interior and revived programs for children and adults.
Several organizations recognized and awarded the restoration and revived programs. Blue Triangle was presented the ACE Award, Good Brick Award and NAACP Image Award. The Building was certified-Texas Registered Historical Site May 2002. Children’s Programs: After School, and Summer Day Camp. Adult programs, Quilt Guild, Social and Garden Clubs. In 2004, the indoor, 9 meter swimming pool was restored/upgraded as salt water pool. Since, over 400 children, youths and adults can swim and are currently water safe. Blue Triangle MCA Board provides excellent leadership in the management of the building and its programs. Resources mainly come from building rentals, sale of Biggers’ Art, memberships, grants, contributions and fund raising events. Commercial Kitchen area is currently under renovation, and will be fully functional by late spring 2017.
Blue Triangle Community Center is committed to serving a multicultural population. The organizations history extends to the early 1900's. The Houston area community planned and implemented recreational activities, leisure learning and fun activities on a daily basis at the center.