William Way LGBT Community Center
The William Way LGBT Community Center seeks to encourage, support, and advocate for the well-being and acceptance of sexual and gender minorities through service, recreational, educational, and cultural programming.
History of the Center
The William Way Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center was formed in 1996, when a group of community leaders came together with the goal of creating a stronger, more stable community center out of Penguin Place, the community center at the time. After an extensive search, the Community Center purchased the former Engineers' Club of Philadelphia in March 1997. Soon after, renovations began, and the building opened to the public in July 1997. Since then, the Center has developed an array of programming and services that target LGBT groups, and community organizations have moved permanent offices into the Community Center. In addition, over 70 groups meet at the Community Center on a regular basis, and many more use the facility for special events. The building is open seven days a week and is currently used by over 2,500 people each month.
Who was William Way?
Known as simply "Bill" to many in the community, he was loved for his compassion, courage and generosity of spirit. He was an openly gay man at a time when coming out of the closet often had severe consequences.
Bill Way was a longtime city employee who, working with the Redevelopment Authority and the Office of Housing and Community Development, over saw the construction of affordable housing throughout the city, including Washington Square West, where he lived.
He was also an advocate for our community, and a strong proponent of creating change by bringing people together. Bill played a key role in the establishment of Penguin Place, our predecessor. Even as his life came to an abrupt end due to AIDS, he continued to spend many hours working on the first AIDS walk and Penguin Place.
Way's life was about two ideas: building the city and strengthening the city. How appropriate it seems then that his name graces this building, an architectural gem we are bringing back to life in the growing heart of our community.