History - Silver Bay YMCA


Silver Bay YMCA Conference and Family Retreat Center was founded in 1902. The plan for establishing a summer meeting place for religious conferences at Silver Bay originated in the mind of Dr. Luther D. Wishard. While confined by illness in a Chicago hospital during the summer of 1899, he heard from a visitor that his friend, Mr. Silas H. Paine of New York City had become the owner of a small hotel on Lake George. The land was purchased from Judge John W. Wilson who had given the inlet located directly in front of the property the name of Silver Bay.

A year later while seeking a summer home for his family, Dr. Wishard visited Silver Bay and became enthusiastic over the idea of Silver Bay as the summer meeting place. He made a hasty trip to New York City and laid his plan before Mr. Paine who at once showed deep interest in the project. In August of 1900, Dr. Wishard and his family who were living at Silver Bay in a cottage were visited by Mr. Harlan P. Beach who assisted in mapping out the first conference at Silver Bay. The Forward Movement Council in Bible Study and Foreign Missions was held at Silver Bay in 1901 with over two hundred persons in attendance.


Silas Paine sold the property to the Silver Bay Association in 1902 and in 1904 The Act of Incorporation enacted what was an already successful experiment of two years duration. Silver Bay was founded ” … for Christian Conferences and training … for religious, missionary, charitable and educational purposes and for the moral and mental improvement of men and women by promoting and providing for conferences of workers in religious organizations, by providing a summer recreation home and training school for such workers and for the training of the leaders of the missionary departments of the Young People’s societies of the various denominations.”


Today the facility is in National Registry of Historic Places and serves as the host site for more than 300 educational, cultural, environmental, religious, public groups and family reunions each year. The center also serves as a programming entity for a membership of over 4000 individuals and as a community development agency serving more than a dozen towns in a three-county area.