In the late 1950’s a group of civic minded men and women petitioned Boys Clubs of America to see if Woburn could establish a Boys Club. After an exhaustive survey that indicated a lack of adequate recreational facilities for the youth of the community, it was strongly recommended that a Boys Club be established. The Woburn Boys Club was officially incorporated in 1959.
Club Construction

Construction on the Woburn Boys Club began in 1963

On July 15, 1963, construction on the Clubhouse began. Plans originally called for gymnasium, but given the availability of many public school gyms available to the youth of the city, a swimming pool was decided upon instead. The swimming pool is named Lucky’s Pool in memory of Charles E. “Lucky” Ryan, the second president of the Woburn Boys Club. The original facility also included club rooms, a gamesroom, library, kitchen and offices. The Club opened its doors to the youth of Woburn on Tuesday, June 2, 1964. The first boy to actually join the Club was eight year old Mark McMahon. As a community service and in keeping with the wishes of the original planners, girls were allowed to use the Club one day each week.
BOY _ YOY with Ted Kennedy

Senator Edward Kennedy visits with the Club’s Boys of the Years on the evening before the funeral for CPL Charles McMahon.

Charles Morgan was named the first Boy of the Year of the Woburn Boys Club in 1965. Then, in 1966 the Club’s Boy of the Year (now Youth of the Year) program was named in memory of PFC Joseph L. Drew. Joe was an original member of the Woburn Boys Club in 1964. Joe entered the United States Marine Corps where he was spent 214 days. He was killed in action on December 27, 1965, just days before his 19th birthday. The Woburn Marine Corps League is the original sponsor of the award which is presented annually in Joe’s name.

Drew Marine Boys Club

PFC Joseph L. Drew

In June of 1966, Charles Gardner joined the Woburn Boys Club as the Executive Director. “The Chief,” as he was known to everyone at the Club, would hold that role for twenty six years, until his retirement in 1992, at which time Boys Club Lane was renamed Charles Gardner Lane.

Former Executive Directors of the Club Glenn Stirling (L) and Charles Gardner (R) at the Annual Awards Reception.

By 1970, a fund drive spearheaded by Gerard “Spike” Boyle has been successful in raising funds for an addition to the Club. The addition included a gym, locker room and weight room.

In 1975, CPL Charles McMahon Jr. was assigned to the United States Embassy in Saigon. He and LCPL Darwin Judge of Iowa were killed during a rocket attack. They were the last two Americans killed in action during the Vietnam War. Charlie was an original member of the Woburn Boys Club and was the 1971 Boy of the Year. A Memorial Wall at the Clubhouse preserves his memory as do the two scholarships that are presented annually in Charlie’s name by the Fall of Saigon Marine Association.

McMahon Marine

CPL Charles McMahon

In 1985 an Alumni Association was created to promote the welfare of the Club and to renew old friendships. Each year, Alumni Association members George & Sue Ellen Holland donate two scholarships to Club members in memory of James L. McKeown. In 1990, Jamie was the first Club alumnus to become President of the Board of Directors.

In 1992, the Club officially changed its name to the Boys & Girls Club of Woburn. Girls and boys have had equal access to the Club since 1991. Co-ed programming rapidly expanded throughout the 1990’s.

The Club has worked collaboratively with the Woburn Public Schools since 2000, when childcare extension sites were established at the Linscott Rumford and Hurld Elementary Schools. Later, in 2005, After the Bell opened at the Shamrock Elementary School. And, in 2012 Before the Bell was launched at the Shamrock Elementary School and a new After the Bell site opened at the Joyce Middle School.

In 2014, the Club celebrated its 50th anniversary of service to youth & teens. The organization was renamed the James L. McKeown Boys & Girls Club of Woburn in memory of Club alumnus Jamie McKeown. The Building Futures Campaign was also announced, with a goal of raising $8million for a renovation and expansion of the existing Club facility.

Charles Gardner Lane

Boys Club Lane was renamed Charles Gardner Lane in 1992.

A small crowd of officers, donors, project contributors, Club staff and friends of the James L. McKeown Boys & Girls Club of Woburn gathered on Thursday, September 8, 2016 to officially break ground on the long awaited renovation and expansion project at Charles Gardner Lane. Construction should be complete by the 2017-2018 school year and the Club moved into the Clapp School to continue programming during construction.

The ceremonial first shovelful of dirt flies towards the camera to mark the groundbreaking of the new McKeown Boys & Girls Club project. (l-r) Tucker Donaghey, Bill Cimmings, Mnatt Maggiore, Denise McKeon, Julie Gage, Mayor Galvin and Century Bank represetative Brad Buckley. Mr Cummings reported that this was his first time actually tossing a shovelful of dirt in 40 years of building openings! Photo by JoeBrownPhotos.com

The ceremonial groundbreaking for the Building Futures Campaign. (l-r) Michael Donaghey, Bill Cummings, Matt Maggiore, Denise McKeown, Julie Gage, Mayor Galvin and Brad Buckley. 
Photo by JoeBrownPhotos.com

On September 9, 2017, the organization hosted its ribbon-cutting ceremony, officially opening and dedicating its newly renovated and expanded Clubhouse, serving even more youth and teens each afternoon in a safe, modernized space where they can learn and play.

Executive Director Julie Gage, Molly McKeown, Denise McKeown, Kelly McKeown, and Board President Michael Donaghey at the Ribbon Cutting for the renovated McKeown Boys & Girls Club.