Statement of Significance (as of designation - October 12, 1994):
The Twelfth Street YMCA Building, constructed 1908-1912, is the earliest "Y" built by and expressly for African Americans. The building was undertaken by the first African American branch of the "Y" movement in the United States, the one founded by Anthony Bowen in 1853. The Bowen "Y", as it came to be known, is a strong reminder of an era in which blacks were encouraged and supported to create and maintain their institutions on a segregated basis. Its existence in the Nation's capitol helped to stimulate such projects elsewhere in the country.