The Jewish Community Center (The J) has been an integral part of the St. Louis community since 1880. From its early days as the YMHA downtown to today’s three thriving campuses – the Staenberg Family Complex in the Creve Coeur area, the Marilyn Fox Building in Chesterfield and Camp Sabra at the Lake of the Ozarks — the J serves people from as young as 6 weeks to more than 100 years within our five core service areas: Early Childhood Education, Day and Resident Camp, Culture & Education, Group Social Services (including senior nutrition and inclusion programs) and Fitness & Wellness.
2737 Locust Street
The J began as the YMHA (Young Men’s’ Hebrew Association) in 1880. The first location was close to where the St. Louis Gateway Arch is located now. The Arch symbolizes St. Louis as the Gateway to the West, and due west is the direction that the Jewish community, and the YMHA, began to move. By 1897, after a couple of changes in location, the YMHA moved west to Locust Street.
3645 Delmar Boulevard
But the Jewish Community continued to expand and move. By 1915, The J moved west into larger quarters at 3645 Delmar, with more space to meet, access to tennis courts, ball fields and swimming pools. The minute the doors were opened, the Y became the “meeting place” for the Jewish people of St. Louis.
724 Union Boulevard Dr., 1927
In fewer less 12 years, the Delmar location became inconvenient, so in 1927, the YMHA-YWHA moved west again to Union and Enright. At that time, the Union Avenue location was the geographic center of the St. Louis Jewish population.
Yalem Building, 1961, and beyond
In 1952, the YMHA-YWHA was incorporated as the Jewish Community Centers Association (JCCA), otherwise known as the J. Times changed, and the Jewish Community continued to move west. In 1961, both the Yalem Building at Olive and Hanley and the outdoor facilities at Lindbergh and Schuetz Roads were completed. In 1963, the Carlyn H. Wohl Building on the I. E. Millstone Jewish Community Campus at the Lindbergh and Schuetz site in Creve Coeur opened.
In 1996, the J expanded again with the opening of the Marilyn Fox Building on the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Campus, located on an 11.4 acre plot of land at the corner of Baxter and Wildhorse Creek Roads in Chesterfield. This full service, 70,000 square foot facility was equipped to serve West St. Louis County residents. Shortly thereafter, on January 1, 1998, the JCCA officially became the Jewish Community Center (JCC), dropping the “A” and incorporating as a non-profit entity.
Renovations and Revitalization of the Marilyn Fox Building
Upgraded and completely renovated in 2008, the Marilyn Fox Building has the amenities and features to make it one of the premier fitness centers and gathering places in West County, not to mention a well-regarded Early Childhood Center and center for family programming.
Staenberg Family Complex
In May 2009, the Jewish Community Center opened the Staenberg Family Complex with a brand new Fitness & Wellness Building in the Creve Coeur area, just off Lindbergh on Schuetz Road. In March 2010, a renovated Carlyn H. Wohl Building was rededicated as the Staenberg Family Complex, Arts & Education Building. These connected facilities have allowed the J to experience a renaissance of sorts, particularly with the revitalization of our membership base and the realization of the agency’s strategic plan to:
- Bring innovation to all J programs
- Build on the J’s reputation for excellence across all services and functions
- Provide an engaging experience to all members and guests
- Serve the community’s needs wherever possible
As we approach 2020, we continue to refine our strategic plans to meet the needs of today’s members and program participants (both Jewish and otherwise), within and beyond our facilities.