In 1937 the Boys Club of Trenton was formed to provide programs and services for the children and young people of Trenton. A group of businessmen (F. E. Schluter, Sr., James Kerney, Jr., Joseph Roebling, C. E. Stokes, Jr., John L. Williamson, and J. S. Hill – later joined by C. B. Gilbert, Sr.) visualized the need for a building-centered recreational, educational, and leisure-time facility for young boys and they gathered to form the Boys Club of Trenton.
As part of a national organization, the Club grew quickly in program sites and number of children served. Today the Boys & Girls Club of Trenton & Mercer County serves more than 2,300 boys and girls each year at its Centre Street facility and 11 school-based sites.
Here are some highlights of the growth of the Boys & Girls Club.
Reservoir Club leased from the City of Trenton. Three rooms: gym, large athletic field, and pool.
Skelton School leased from the City of Trenton for the Centre Street Boys Club. This had been the first free public school in the State of New Jersey. Three game rooms, woodshop, library, club room, gym, craft rooms and yard, serving well over 1,000 boys at this time.
The old Roebling School leased from the City becomes the 11th Ward Boys Club. Two classrooms for a gym, two game rooms, woodshop, library, craft room and yard.
Reservoir Boys Club closes.
Centre Street Club builds 25’ x 50’ pool, donated by the Junior League of Trenton ($6,500)
Under a new President and staff, a fund-raising effort between the Board and the Junior League raises $80,000 to buy property north of the Centre Street Club and erect a full size gymnasium, 10,000 sq. feet. One half of which was to be used by the Junior League and the other half for the Boys Club.
With the new gym, a Bingo program involving staff, mothers, and board members starts. Saturday night bingos raise about $40,000 annually.
Under outgoing president Charles E. Stokes, Jr., and incoming president J. Stuart Hill, and with permission of the United Fund, the Club starts on a $500,000 capital campaign to build a new Club in northwest Trenton and at Centre Street. Mr. and Mrs. J. Stuart Hill donate $80,000 to purchase the Pennington Avenue Food Fair property. Most of the remaining funds are raised to complete the projects.
11th Ward Boys Club closes
Pennington Avenue Boys Club is dedicated with President Richard M. Nixon, board chairman of Boys Clubs of America, presiding. Program chaired by E. John Wherry, Sr.
A large three-story, nine-room house that is in the way of a construction project is given to the Boys Club. Donated by R. Charles Jester, the building is moved to the rear of the Pennington Avenue club and renovated.
Skelton School (Centre Street Club) is demolished, and a new building erected. This entails raising an additional $75,000 in a quiet campaign chaired by C. Shelley Acuff, J.S. Hill, and Herbert F. Moore.
Two additional lots north of the Centre Street Club are purchased and construction of 2000 sq. ft. of additional program space is completed under the presidency of Bernie R. Butler.
To Be Continued …