Douglas residents were able to celebrate the rebirth of a historic building Saturday that is once again open for business.
Keith and Lupita Dinwiddie purchased the three-story YMCA building, located on 10th Street and Pan American Avenue from the City of Douglas in 2016 with a commitment to spearhead the structure’s restoration.
“We want to get it fixed up, and open it to the residents of Douglas,” Dinwiddie said in a 2016 Douglas Dispatch article. “The senior citizens should have a place to go, as well as the younger generation. We are really just interested in helping the people of Douglas.”
That commitment was fulfilled Saturday as Douglas residents showed up to witness what Cochise County Supervisor Ann English called the “birth of a new building”.
“We have seen this building over the years thriving at times,” she said. “The railroad used to come up here; people would off load their goods here. Douglas was a thriving town at that time and then circumstances brought it down. The Dinwiddie’s have done everything possible to bring it back to life. Today you are seeing the birth of a building that we hope will energize Douglas.”
English announced 17 different people have already committed to utilizing the YMCA in order to provide a variety of services to the community.
“I’m sure you are going to enjoy this building for years to come,” she said. “As time goes on and the local economy energizes the Dinwiddie’s hope to make this a place where you all can have parties and quinceaneras, baby showers, all kinds of family events that will bring people together. We’re hoping you all will take advantage of this building and it will become a real stable force in the community.”
A plaque outside the entrance states the YMCA was built in 1905 by El Paso and Southwest Railroad and the Calumet and Arizona Copper and the citizens of Douglas.
In 1916 it was expanded to include a gym, a swimming pool and other recreational facilities with additional support provided by Phelps Dodge and The Dodge Foundation. In 1984 the YMCA was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
With the help of Keith and Lupita, English announced the revealing of the Keith Dinwiddie Foundation that will keep the building going for many years to come.
“I want to thank everybody for coming today,” Keith told those at the celebration. “We want to celebrate the grand opening of the grand lady. We’ve been working long and hard on this project for three years. When we bought her from the city, she needed a lot of help and repair.”
Keith invited the citizens of Douglas to stop by and enjoy this magnificent grand lady.
“I’d really like to thank my wife Lupita,” he said. “She’s the one behind all this. She worked like a beaver to get this thing ready. It is such a joy knowing we’ve been able to bring this grand lady back to life.”
Keith added upgrades included putting on a new roof; the electricity as well as the plumbing was also upgraded.
“We worked really hard on the interior trying to get everything ready for today,” he said. “This has been a day that I have been looking forward to for a long time. God bless all those that helped us work on this project.”
Keith added all the repairs and upgrades were done without any grant assistance.
There are spaces inside the YMCA that are available for people to rent.
“We want to make this something like a mini mall,” he said. “That’s why we are calling it Plaza Esmeralda.”
Keith also announced he has applied for a liquor license with the city and if approved at the July meeting, a sports bar will soon be open on the bottom floor.
Lupita added this was a dream of hers and to see it come about makes her feel very happy.
“What Keith and Lupita have done with this place and done for the community is an act of love,” English said.
For more information on the YMCA, contact Lupita at (520) 227-9120 or stop by between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.