(Photos property of The Salvation Army Central Territory Historical Museum - Band Festival Milwaukee, WI, June 1, 1924)
The total needs of his fellow men and women - material, emotional and spiritual - were the primary concerns of William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army. In 1865, Booth, an ordained Methodist minister, along with his wife Catherine, enlisted followers to preach the gospel and wage war against the sin and hunger that flourished in the East London slums. Originally known as the Christian Mission, the group endured abuse and death threats to become The Salvation Army in 1878. Organized on a militaristic structure, Booth became the General and his ministers were appointed officers ranks.
The Salvation Army marched into the United States in 1880 and established the Milwaukee mission in 1889. Captain Samuel Neil, his wife and four workers created a Command Post in a small storefront on 740 N. Water Street. The community did not entirely understand or accept the group, and police protection occasionally had to be sought. Over the next century of involvement in Milwaukee, The Salvation Army embarked on a mission of service with numerous milestones.
Below is a list of key dates in the history of The Salvation Army in Greater Milwaukee.
- 1893 First Red Kettle Drive to raise funds to provide Christmas dinners for the destitute.
- 1903 Industrial home for men is established, including the first shelter for the homeless and the first thrift store operation.
- 1922 The Booth Home and Hospital for Unwed Mothers is founded to provide shelter and a "home-like" atmosphere to young women.
- 1925 Army Lake Camp opens near East Troy offering a summer camp experience to hundreds each year.
- 1926 The Salvation Army establishes the Settlement Corps on Milwaukee's south side.
- 1929 The Salvation Army affiliates with the Community Federated Fund, predecessor of the United Way.
- 1930 Journal Goodfellows and The Salvation Army open a lodging and eating house for single men who are jobless and homeless.
- 1931 A new Corps Community Center is constructed on North 19th Street in the heart of the inner city.
- 1932 Army soup kitchens feed the hungry during the Depression.
- 1935 The Army's Christmas toy distribution begins.
- 1941 The Salvation Army assists Milwaukee servicemen and women during World War II and helps organize the USO.
- 1953 The Adult Rehabilitation Center is established at 324 North Jackson to serve destitute, homeless men.
- 1959 The Salvation Army opens a new Corps Community Center at 4129 W. Villard Avenue.
- 1970 The Salvation Army dedicates new facilities for the West Corps Community Center at 25th Street, to serve the area's 60,000 children and adults.
- 1971 The Salvation Army creates the Volunteer Probation Counseling Program utilizing 400 business and professional people to serve one-to-one with probation offenders.
- 1979 The Salvation Army purchases the Masterpiece Motor Lodge at 1730 N. 7th Street from the City of Milwaukee for $1.00. The facility will be used to provide emergency housing and meals for homeless individuals and families.
- 1980 The Salvation Army provides emergency help during the West Bend Tornado disaster.
- 1984 The Salvation Army joins together with Health Care for the Homeless to provide health care services for homeless individuals in the community.
- 1985 The Salvation Army joins with eight local agencies to provide healthcare to the homeless through a demonstration grant program.
- 1988 The Army joins Toys for Tots drive conducted by The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve to collect and distribute thousands of toys the week before Christmas.
- 1990 The Salvation Army launches Feed The Kids, a summer meal program designed to meet the needs of hungry children in Milwaukee's poorest neighborhoods.
- 1990 The Salvation Army partners with 1290 WMVP to host Christmas Family Feast, offering a free community meal to the public. That first year a cast of 700 volunteers served Christmas dinner to 3,500 individuals. In its 26th year, Christmas Family Feast now serves more than 8,000 members of the community. It is the largest community meal in the country offered by The Salvation Army on Christmas Day.
- 1991 The Salvation Army opens a new Corps Community Center in Oak Creek as part of its Centennial celebration in Greater Milwaukee.
- 1992 The Salvation Army builds 40 apartments for low-income senior citizens adjacent to the Oak Creek Corps Community Center. The facility is built with a grant from Housing and Urban Development. In 1997, a second phase is completed, bringing the number of HUD-funded apartments for seniors and the disabled to 80.
- 1997 Salvation Army volunteers respond to the needs of people affected by Milwaukee's 100-Year Flood. Relief workers cleaned out the flooded basements of 364 elderly homeowners and provided meals and cleaning supplies to 11,754 people.
- 1998 The Salvation Army purchases a warehouse at 3031 W. Mill Road to serve as an Outreach Services and Distribution Center. The facility will allow for the expansion of Food Pantry and Disaster Services.
- 1999 The Salvation Army opens the Winterstar Transitional Housing program. Funding is provided by Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- 2000 The Salvation Army distributes Thanksgiving Food Baskets to 3,000 low income familes and Senior Citizens. The program strengthens the family unit by providing a traditional holiday meal that can be prepared at home and enjoyed by the entire family.
- 2008 The Salvation Army launches the ROOTS Permanent Housing program, consisting of 13 apartment units for chronically homeless individuals.
- 2010 The Salvation Army purchases an 80,000 sq. foot warehouse on 5880 N. 60th Street to run social service programs, including Feed The Kids, Back to School, Coats for Kids, and Toy Shop.
- 2015 The Salvation Army breaks ground on a new Corps Community Center at 2900 W. Cold Spring Road in Greenfield.