Western Avenue Community Center
(WACC) opened in 1926. In the 1870s local
German Baptists organized a church in a one-room frame
building on the site at the corner of Western Avenue and Locust
Street. Church services in German were held there until World War
During WWI Second Presbyterian Church purchased
the property and started a community church with services in English.
After the war a growing community of Irish and German immigrants,
who found work in the rail yards, inhabited northwest Bloomington.
Rev. Frank Breen, pastor of the Congregational
Church, represented Bloomington churches in his part-time ministry
at the Western Avenue location and advocated for a community center
to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood. In 1926
a group of community leaders held a campaign to raise $30,000 for
the erection of an inter-denominational church and community center
to serve as a neighborhood meeting place for social, religious,
educational, and recreational activities for all age groups.
The Western Avenue Church Center began operations
with a new chapel, community room/gymnasium, classrooms and a kitchen.
The Western Avenue Community Church was formally organized and in
the fall of 1931, Rev. Breen resigned
as Associate Pastor at Second Presbyterian Church and devoted full-time
to being Director of the Western Avenue Community Center and Pastor
of the Western Avenue Church. He led the organization until 1955.
In 1958, when Rev. Harry Smith was
serving as Executive Director for the Center, programs included
boxing, piano, dances, carpentry, automotive mechanics classes,
cooking class, crafts and two basketball leagues. The budget was
$11,000 for the year.
Western Avenue Community Church disbanded as a church in 1969,
but continued as a social service organization and community center,
working with youth and reaching out into the neighborhood.
A fire in 1981 destroyed the church
building, but leaders decided to rebuild on the site. This building
and property serves as the center of community programs today with
offices, a community room, gymnasium and playground.
building is owned by Second Presbyterian Church,
and programs are funded by 2PC, United
Way, other churches, businesses and individuals.
Today WACC serves more than 1000 families per year in the community
and has many friends and supporters who “grew up” at
the Center. Although the church is gone, faith still plays an important
part in the social service programs in place at Western Avenue Community
of Western Avenue Community Center
1928 – Rev. Frank
1955 – A.L. Sheldon
1956 – Rev. Dean DeVeny Pastor
1958 – Rev. Harry Smith
1960 – Wm Anderson
1968 – YMCA
1970 – Robert Cornwell
1976 – William Phillips III
1980 – Michael Frandsen
1982 – Charla Cullen
2000 – Ed Fowler
2001 – John Libert
2002 – Patrick Morland
2007 – Charla Cullen
2009 – Amy Cottone