The early years of the Twelfth Street YMCA were trying ones, as there was no official building for the branch. Therefore, the Twelfth Street YMCA had to hold meetings in found spaces until it could secure its own building. These spaces included areas such as the living rooms of its members, and rented or donated spaces. Despite these circumstances, the Twelfth Street YMCA thrived as a safe haven for many in the African American community. Finally, in 1912, the Twelfth Street YMCA opened its first official address, and served the community for many more years as the only African American YMCA in the area (Anthony Bowen History).
Anthony Bowen was born in 1809, as a slave in Prince George's County, Maryland. He was a very determined man, and eventually bought his own freedom with the money that he had been able to save. After buying the freedom of his wife as well, they moved to Washington, DC and Bowen began doing good for the African American community. With all of the unrest happening in the African American community during the Civil Rights Movement, the Twelfth Street YMCA was a safe and welcoming place for African Americans to be nurtured and to grow as human beings. YMCA Anthony Bowen still serves countless people today (Anthony Bowen History).