History

During World War I, the Victory Club provided support services for African American soldiers and social activities for the broader African American community. When the war ended, the government closed the Victory Club. In response to the tremendous need felt by returning black soldiers and their families, Mary Stewart, Rev. J.J. Byers, and John Fisher founded the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center (BTWCSC) at 45 Farren Street in the Western Addition on April 18, 1920.

BTWCSC became the driving force for educational, cultural, and social activities for a growing black community in San Francisco. The popularity and importance of its programming caused the center to move to multiple locations in the Western Addition before reaching its current location at 800 Presidio in 1952. During its century of service, BTWCSC had developed a broad range of family services, youth programming, senior citizens care, and employment placement for a community ravaged by racial and economic disparities. The center has been pivotal in the development of multiple generations of San Franciscan families, having served the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren of its previous clients.

In 2018, BTWCSC opened its current 70,000 square foot mixed-use building consisting of a new community center (containing a childcare facility, youth programming space, recording studios, a gymnasium, and community space) and 50 units of service-enriched affordable housing, including 24 homes for youth transitioning from foster care.

The center’s current portfolio of services and partnerships continue to provide an array of support for an increasingly diverse community of need within the Western Addition. The second century of BTWCSC is on track to be even more dynamic than the first.