Hannan Memorial YMCA Time Capsule

On April 4 we were honored to host a rare event, the opening of a time capsule. Rescued from the demolition site of the Hannan Memorial YMCA at 10401 East Jefferson Avenue, the discovery of the time capsule is a story in and of itself. Local photographer and Detroit historian Eric Hergenreder runs a blog where he chronicles and celebrates historic structures in and around Detroit. He had written a post about the Hannan Memorial YMCA, which mentioned that a time capsule had been tucked into its cornerstone during a ceremony on July 25, 1927. As luck would have it, someone saw his blog post and shared the information with the demolition crew, who searched through the debris and found the stone.  

City of Detroit Director of Construction & Demolition LaJuan Counts joined Detroit Historical Society President & CEO Elana Rugh and Detroit Historical Society Director of Collections Jeremy Dimick at the Detroit Historical Museum to unseal the time capsule. Inside the black box, an inner copper container revealed a number of newspaper clippings, including one about the time capsule itself, a 1926 YMCA roster, an American flag, a Bible, and other period artifacts. Now in the care of the Society, the items are being dried out, examined, and cataloged at our Collections Resource Center. Look for more details soon!

The Hannan Memorial YMCA was an important landmark. Named after William Washington Hannan, a prominent figure in Detroit's real estate scene, the YMCA served as a vital community hub for decades. Initially opened in 1928 with generous donations from Hannan's wife, Luella, the YMCA provided a range of services and programs to the surrounding neighborhoods. In the 1970s, the building transitioned into a Job Corps Training Center, and in 2005 the property was transferred to the Women's Justice Center, who had plans to renovate and utilize the structure. In 2020, however, the City of Detroit sued the non-profit after no work was done to clean up the building, which had fallen into extreme disrepair. It was demolished by the city in March and April 2024. Learn more via Eric Hergenreder.