84 Lowther Street is a group of three, two storey buildings originally constructed in the 1830’s as the local depot of the second West York Militia. The 1850 OS plan of the area shows that most of the surrounding streets of terraces housing were still undeveloped although the street pattern was established. It also shows the large area at the rear laid out as a garden. The main, central building was presumably the officer’s mess and administration building. The building to the right of the entrance court (now known as the Minster Building) was the stores and the building on the left is labelled ‘Guard House’. An interesting feature of both frontage buildings which survives to the rear of the Guard House is half a metre gap with ‘flying buttresses’ between it and the high boundary wall. It was probably a measure to prevent anyone breaking into the stores, magazine or cells through the perimeter wall.
It was later an ‘industrial school’ (known by local children as the Marmalade school, for some unknown reason) and then a children’s home known as St Hilda’s run by the Public Assistance Committee from the early 1930’s. When the children were old enough to work the girls were mostly entered into domestic service and the boys to farm work. Then for a while it was in use as an occupation centre for Mental Welfare. It was bought by the then York Boys Club when their previous site in Redness Street in the Layerthorpe area was redeveloped in the 1970’s. Whilst the property is not listed and it is not located within a conservation area, it clearly has historic significance in the Groves area of York. The right side of the main building was altered in the 70’s when a gymnasium was constructed at first floor level. This has a flat roof at a higher level than the original eaves and does, unfortunately detract from the architectural character of the buildings.
The York Boys’ Club was renamed Young Groves to reflect the change to admit girls to the youth club. To make full use of the space available and to help fund the maintenance of the buildings and running of the club, other groups, all involving organisations providing services, support and activities for children and young people and their families use parts of the buildings under licence to the club. The management Committee decided, in early 2010, to close the Club to undertake some much needed refurbishment to the premises; to appoint a full time leader and to recruit additional staff and voluntary workers. We wanted to improve the utilisation of the space; to create greater flexibility; to change the environment to reflect the present needs and demands of young people. The youth club was re-launched in early 2011 as DOOR 84 and is a thriving meeting place for young people aged from 8 – 17. A very wide range of activities take place both on site and on outings and visits including camping trips and weekends in the Dales.