ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Young Men’s Association



Young Men’s' Christian Association



_____ 1858 __________

01 21       Carl Schurz lecture before Young Men’s Association   WL


03 03       Young Men’s Association is city institution; reading room  open; number of paying members   WD


09 16       Mr. S. W. Shorey’s Shakespearian readings before Association.   WD


09 16       Collection of a Library commenced; Officers elected   WD


10 07       Daniel Hall, Esq. to deliver a lecture on subject of Astronomy  


10 14       Appeal for book donations for library   WD


_____ 1859 __________

01 27        Mr. E. A. Calkins lecture, “What we are made for!”    WD


02 03       Effort to procure additions to library; the only public library in the city    WD


06 02       Fourth of July celebration plans    WD


08 04       Quarterly report of Librarian    WD


09 15       Debate:  That a person is not bound to obey a law which his conscience condemns    WD


_____ 1860 __________

02 09        The Elements of True Womanhood    WD


04 19       Wanted—Light on the Subject.  Is the Young Men’s Association dead, or does it only sleep?  The room is “dull as night, and dark as Erebus” [Greek god of darkness who dwelt in the underworld].  The gas pipes refuse their accustomed supply—the burners are no longer burners; not even a ghost of a departed orator is to be seen or heard in the vacant room.  What is the matter?  Whose fault is it?  The Gas Company, the officers of the Association, or the members?  Or is it one of those intricate financial muddles which are beyond solution by any mathematical rule?  A. Member.   WD


11 23       The German Young Men’s Association, after paying the expenses of their ball at Cole’s Hall last week for the benefit of the surviving sufferers by the loss of the Lady Elgin, had just one hundred dollars, which has been forwarded to the treasurer of that fund, in Milwaukee.  The young men who took charge of the matter and carried it through so successfully are certainly deserving of much credit.   WR


_____ 1887 __________

05 04       Y.M.C.A. FORMED

Another well attended meeting of both old and young, interested in the formation of a Young Men’s Christian Association for this city, was held at the Congregational church last Sunday afternoon.  The meeting was opened with an address and prayer by Rev. F. A. Holzhausen, after which President Bennett presided, expressing satisfaction at the favorable progress made during the week just passed and announced with great pleasure that the Y. M. C. A. of Watertown was a matter of fact, the initiatory step having been taken towards its formation.  Remarks were made by Rev. Mr. Campbell, A. Baum, D. G. Whyte, W. C. Stone and C. C. Eaton, the two last named describing their visits to the Milwaukee and Madison associations, respectively.  The constitution as read by the president was then adopted and forty signatures for membership were received.  The meeting closed with singing and the benediction by Rev. J. M. Campbell.  Will meet again next Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock in the M. E. church.       Watertown News


_____ 1908 __________

05 02       A mass meeting for the men of Watertown held at the Turner opera house.   WL


05 06       Turner hall meeting composed mostly of men from Evangelical churches   WL


_____ 2022 __________




The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (the Foundation) is proud to announce the purchase of the former Bethesda Corporate Center and 90 adjacent acres along the Rock River on the city's south side. The Foundation plans to transform the campus into a thriving work-live-play neighborhood that models best practices in community connectedness, health and wellbeing.

Over the next 10 months, the former Corporate Center will be renovated, reopening in the summer of 2023 as The Collective. In 55,000 square feet over three floors, The Collective will house a new YMCA Child Care and Early Education Center, a satellite Express YMCA, Jefferson County Head Start, and nonprofit and innovation coworking spaces. In its entirety, members of The Collective will be a vibrant community of changemakers championing strong families and a prosperous community.

Development of The Collective and adjacent property is an exciting next step toward the Foundation's vision of vibrant communities where everyone enjoys health and wellbeing. The project will also catalyze development in one of the City of Watertown's priority development areas.

"Collaboration is foundational to everything the Foundation does, and this campus will provide many opportunities for community partners to collaborate in improving community vibrancy and wellbeing," said Dr. Mike Sullivan, Foundation Board Chair.

The collective logo

Since 2017, the Foundation has facilitated Every Child Thrives, a partnership of 50+ agencies across Dodge and Jefferson Counties working to ensure all children thrive in health, learning and life. The Collective campus investment is designed to accelerate transformative impact toward Every Child Thrives' strong families and prosperous community goals. The community benefits of this project include:

·         Creation of a new, high-quality early care and education center with capacity to serve 126 children.

·         Nonprofit service colocation so families can access wrap-around supports in one, convenient location.

·         Sharing of office space, resources and services to provide efficiencies for nonprofit service providers, allowing agencies to focus time and attention on those they serve.

·         Shared professional development to advance community impact.

·         Wellness programming to support healthy lifestyle and strengthen community.

·         80+ acres of housing development. A needs assessment is being completed now and a community master planning process will launch in late 2022 to identify how the neighborhood can address the housing shortage affecting all demographic groups in our region.

"The Collective is more than just a work space," says Tina Crave, Foundation President & CEO. "It's a catalyst for our mission, which is to inspire collaboration, mobilize resources and encourage innovation that measurably contributes to the wellbeing of our community."

The Collective will serve as an innovation center, piloting best practices for childcare business sustainability. Outreach from The Collective to early care and education providers across Dodge and Jefferson Counties will connect providers with resources to improve quality of care and operational effectiveness.

The Watertown Area YMCA also announced plans for The Collective to be the future home of the new, full-size YMCA. The YMCA would be developed in two phases based on the support of community donors. Phase one would relocate current operations from the old Watertown High School with amenities including a Gymnasium, Wellness & Free Weight Center, aerobic activity studios and Youth Center. The second phase would center on the addition of a state-of-the-art aquatic facility for instruction, recreation and water safety. The YMCA will release details of future plans as they become funded.

A shared investment in community

"The Collective is a dream we've explored behind the scenes for many years," says Crave. "After exploring several options, from building new to repurposing space, we are excited to bring these dreams to life at this location."

Total capital costs to purchase the 90 acres, renovate and finish the 55,000 square foot Collective are budgeted at $16 million. Jefferson County and Dodge County have each allocated $200,000 and the City of Watertown has allocated $400,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to support The Collective's goals of increasing access to quality child care across the region.

"One of the goals our city council set was to use our ARPA funds in a manner that the impact of the funds lasted well beyond the funding itself," Mayor Emily McFarland said. "There is no doubt about it that our community needs more child care slots; I've seen the data and I've heard it during nearly every business visit I've done. I'm thankful to the Foundation for leading this effort, to the YMCA for being an incredible community partner, and to the city council for allocating this level of involvement. It will make an incredible impact on workforce availability, on the families in our community, and on the children in care. In government, you don't always get the opportunity to be a proactive and strategic leader of change; I'm thrilled we get to be a part of that with this project."

In addition to serving as the new headquarters for the Foundation, The Collective will serve as home for the following agencies:

Watertown Area YMCA

A cornerstone partner in this project, the YMCA will open a new Child Care and Early Education Center and a satellite Express YMCA in 2023.

·         The Child Care and Early Education Center will provide high quality, 5-star accredited care with space for 126 children, including twice as many infant and toddler positions as a typical Center would hold. The Center will offer better than industry average wages for staff and the Y intends to develop collaborative relationships with area businesses related to childcare fees for their employees. These strategies aim to further support and stabilize the child care industry as a whole.

·         The Express YMCA will offer 24 hour access to health and wellness opportunities for all levels, including cardio equipment, weight machines, and group exercise spaces for traditional classes, small group training, and virtual/on-demand classes. The space will have amenities that cater to those who are new or returning to exercise. An EGYM circuit will offer personalized workouts that are effective and fun with technology that tailors the experience for each specific individual. "We like to say it's the last new space of the old YMCA and the first space of the new YMCA (to be added)" said Jon Lange, YMCA Chief Executive Officer.

·         Future plans include the relocation of existing YMCA operations to The Collective with a new, full facility YMCA.

Jefferson County Head Start - A federal- and state-funded preschool program focusing on school readiness for 3-5 year old children, at no cost to eligible families.

AbleLight (formerly Bethesda) - Provides life-changing services that empower people with developmental disabilities to achieve their full potential.

Community Action Coalition - A nonprofit working to end poverty and help people live better lives.

Safe Families for Children - A professionally supported volunteer movement dedicated to providing "extended family-like supports" to local families facing a crisis.

Jefferson County Human Services - Enhancing the quality of life for individuals and families living in Jefferson County by addressing their needs in a respectful manner and enabling citizens receiving services to function as independently as possible, while acknowledging their cultural differences.

Innovation coworking space - This coworking space invites community changemakers from all backgrounds and sectors into The Collective. A selective leasing process will prioritize civic-minded entrepreneurs and businesses who are looking to share space with a network of community changemakers.

Leases will include private workspace with wraparound amenities that foster connection and provide efficiencies, including:

·         Shared, technology equipped conference rooms

·         "The Atrium" a networking and event space with a grand view

·         Private Zoom rooms

·         Quarterly networking and collaboration events

·         Shared professional development and networking

·         Onsite early care and fitness facilities

·         Shared café space

·         Shared utilities and services (wifi, printing, lawn care, waste removal)

Benefits for all

The Collective is a shared investment in community prosperity, ultimately lifting families, agencies, volunteers and businesses.

·         Families will benefit from the addition of badly-needed early care and education slots, along with convenient access to a variety of support services.

·         Children will enjoy a five-star learning environment, preparing them for success at school.

·         Volunteers will enjoy a coordinated approach that connects them with meaningful, timely tasks that benefit a variety of agencies.

·         Agencies can strengthen their reach and effectiveness with:

o    Reduced operating costs (economies of scale, stable and affordable office space, shared services), and

o    Broadened capacity, impact and sustainability (resources, professional development, collaboration and operational support).

·         The community will enjoy vibrant new civic spaces.

·         Civic-minded entrepreneurs and businesses can find a home that is much more than just office space, joining a forward-thinking community of changemakers.

Renovation plans and Timeline

·         August, 2022 Purchase property Begin remodeling The Collective

·         Fall, 2022 YMCA will kick off capital fundraising campaign to raise funds for a full new YMCA Community members will be invited to participate in a Master Planning process for future neighborhood development

·         Spring, 2023 The Collective opens

To date, the foundation has invested more than $14 million in its five strategic, child-focused priorities:

·         strong families

·         kindergarten readiness

·         school success

·         social and emotional wellbeing

·         healthy eating/active living



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Transformation of former Bethesda Corporate Headquarters Building into The Collective facility of the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation


The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation will transform the campus into a thriving work-live-play neighborhood that models best practices in community connectedness, health and wellbeing.


Over the next 10 months, the former Corporate Center will be renovated, reopening in the summer of 2023 as The Collective.  In 55,000 square feet over three floors, The Collective will house a new YMCA Child Care and Early Education Center, a satellite Express YMCA, Jefferson County Head Start, and nonprofit and innovation coworking spaces.


_____ 2022 __________


Kay Nord, the current Watertown YMCA branch executive director, has announced she is retiring in March of 2023 after 43 years. Kim Schooley, the YMCA’s current youth development branch executive director, has been named her replacement. Nord and Schooley will work side by side for the next six months to ensure a smooth transition.


Nord began her Y career in 1980 at the YMCA in Oconomowoc and throughout her early years held positions in many areas, from member services to aquatics to youth sports, and eventually as program operations director. Her focus shifted to the Watertown community in the fall of 2008 when the YMCA began interim management of the Health & Wellness Center of Watertown and Kay was called upon to serve as interim director. In December 2009, the Watertown Area YMCA was officially established and Kay’s position as branch executive director was solidified, a role she has poured her heart into for the last 13 years. She has built very strong relationships in the community, with Y members, and among the staff team.       Link to announcement 


_____ 2024 __________


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Jefferson County officials celebrated the grand opening of a new Youth Crisis Stabilization Facility.  The Matz Center, formerly part of Bethesda’s Camp Matz, is an eight-bedroom facility with the ability to house “four boys and four girls while providing short-term crisis stabilization in a community-based setting.”


The goal of the new center is to prevent, deescalate and treat mental health crises to avoid admission to a more restrictive setting.     WDTimes article



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Partnership is with the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation


Watertown, Wis. (June 19, 2024) – The City of Watertown’s Common Council approved a development agreement between the City and the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation to develop new owner-occupied housing on nearly 40 acres of land, which is situated on the former Bethesda property at 700 Hoffman Drive on the southwest side of Watertown.





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History of Watertown, Wisconsin