Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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April 16, 2013

Teen center takes long and windy road

(Continued)

By 1908, The Guild was responsible for a Boys and Girls Club that trained the children in what were considered practical skills for the time. Girls were instructed in nursing, cooking, sewing and embroidering, while the boys were taught mathematics, English, carpentry and printing. In that year, about 200 children from Andover participated in The Guild’s activities. As the town continued to grow and change, so did the Guild, however, and by 1939. it was also being used as a youth hostel. This youth hostel was fully outfitted with army cots and blankets. During this time, it cost $1 or $2 to get a youth hostel pass, which enabled hikers and bikers to ride around the country and stop at any of the 184 youth hostels spread out across the U.S.

Around the 1940s, the Guild again evolved and instead of the studious activities it had previously offered, recreational activities became the focus. The building was considered to be an athletic drop-in center, with children paying about a dime a week to participate. There was a basketball court and bowling alley and opportunities for sports, games and gymnastics, with dances and social gatherings on the weekends. It was a fun place for kids to go and was widely considered as belonging to the community. However, since most of the equipment was donated, the facility quickly became outdated and use dropped off in the mid-1960s.

For a time, The Guild became part of the Andover YMCA, but when the new YMCA was built, The Guild property again went unused.

In the early 1980s, the building was bought by the Andover Knights of Columbus and has been used by the organization ever since.

With the Guild building no longer an option, the youth of Andover once again found themselves with no headquarters. In 1968, a pseudo teen center began operating at the high school, but many students disliked the location since they already spent so much time at school and didn’t want to go back to the cafeteria on weekends to hang out.

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