Bob Swisher: Glad to see McKinley Y is preserved

Bob Swisher: Glad to see McKinley Y is preserved

We were among a group of people invited over the holidays to tour the old McKinley Memorial YMCA building, 400 W. Church St., C.

The property is now owned by Leon Jeske, who is no stranger to restoration in the community.

Jeske acquired the property in 2011. As it stands now, it consists of the main building and a separate building to the west known as the boiler room/crafts building.

Champaign banker B.F. Harris bought the property in 1904 and constructed the current buildings for his daughter, Rachel Phillippe, who lived there until she died in 1936. In 1938, a citizens' group bought the home for use as a YMCA, using a bequest from the late U.S. Sen. William B. McKinley.

The gym and pool were added at that time. In 1981, a second pool and parking lot were added.

Jeske has made a number of improvements and has done some major repairs, which continue. He has a fitness center in operation that has an open enrollment.

The preservation of this historic building is a plus for the community.

Pat Jenkins, 1944-2013

We lost a real pillar in the antiques business in East Central Illinois with the recent passing of Patricia Grubb Jenkins.

She died very unexpectedly in her sleep on a recent Sunday morning. With her husband Stu, Mrs. Jenkins had been active in the antique market place most of her adult life. Most recently, they were the driving force behind the Farmer City Antique Show.

She belonged to one of the first families in Champaign. Her grandfather was G.R. Grubb, and her father was George Grubb.

If you knew those two gentlemen, you would know why she was so well thought of: She was born into a first-rate family with a great reputation.

Her job was in mental health and rehabilitation, to which she devoted more time than required in a 40-hour week. Her passion for this area of work continued after she retired. Mrs. Jenkins donated many hours in this field until she passed.

We will miss her as a fellow antique lover, and so will the community she was so active in.

Good antiquing!

Bob Swisher has been a collector since he was a child. Questions or comments can be sent to Swisher by writing to The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-677 or emailing

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big10bum wrote on March 16, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Is this the same former Ymca that is at 500 w. Church?