In 1884, Dr. Charles H. Parkhurst, Pastor of the Madison Square Church and President of the Society for the Prevention of Crime, suggested a Boys Club as a means to address the problem of youth gangs in the city’s toughest eastside district. In response, a club was founded in a vacant store on First Avenue and 37th Street. Operating as a mission of the church, the club relocated within the community several times before becoming an organization independent of the church in 1902.
In the early years, trustees took turns opening the club and supervising recreational and vocational programs which included crafts, dramatics, sports, lectures and trade classes. The club carried out its mission in a variety of buildings including public schools, private houses and church basements. It was not until 1939 when Herbert Hoover, then Chairman of the National Association of Boys Clubs, opened our first youth dedicated facility at 29th Street in Manhattan.
While girls participated in club programs from the very beginning, their involvement was limited to dramatics, swimming and socials. The trustees recognized the need for girls’ programs and were instrumental in founding the Girls Club of New York. It was in 1984 that the clubs were officially opened to both girls and boys and the organization was renamed the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club.
Albert B. Hines served as the Boys Club Director from 1912 to 1953. His contributions to the growth of Madison and the early Boys Club movement were many. He is best remembered for laying the foundation his successors, Sherwood Ernenwien, Chuck Lawley and current Executive Director, Joseph Patuleia who have developed Madison into one of the Boys & Girls Club of America’s flagship organizations.