History of The Salvation Army in the National Capital Area

In 1880, The Salvation Army arrived to America from it’s home base in London. Five years later, the first Salvation Army in Washington D.C. opened it’s doors to service in June 1885. From the beginning, the Army in Washington established programs that have fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, and provided counseling and support to those most in need of help.

Needs grow

As the needs of the city grew, the variety of services broadened and neighborhood locations expanded. The earliest locations were on, or close to Pennsylvania Avenue, near the old downtown. In 1885, The Army opened a location in Alexandria, Virginia. In the early 20th century, services were available in neighborhoods such as Shaw in Northwest Washington, and in Southeast. These are sites where The Army still resides today. As the growth of Washington locations accelerated, expansion into other cities and counties in Maryland and Virginia followed.

Homelessness and substance abuse

Following the Salvation Army’s mission, the Industrial Home opened in 1903 which helped address the problems of chronic homelessness and unemployment. Men were taught trades while working for their meals and housing. This program eventually became the Men’s Social Service Center, and later the Adult Rehabilitation Center. Strengthened by the opening of the Harbor Light Treatment Center in 1951, these programs became increasingly sophisticated, providing comprehensive services to those fighting the dual problems of homelessness and substance abuse.

Housing for women and children

For eighty years, providing housing to women and children in need has been a long-standing commitment of the Salvation Army in Washington D.C. In 1921, the Evangeline Residence was opened to provide low-cost rooms and board to working women. In the 1940’s, the Emergency Home was opened to provide women with children a sanctuary while seeking permanent homes and jobs. This program has evolved into the Turning Point Center for Women and Children, a comprehensive supportive independent living program, offering a pathway to independence to young mothers and their kids.

Centers for worship and service

For 125 years, our neighborhood Corps Centers have provided a location for service and service throughout the region.  In addition, they have offered emergency support, food, counseling, spiritual nourishment, and activities for all age groups. Renewing the Salvation Army’s commitment to the Washington area, the Army opened its newest and largest center in Gaithersburg, Maryland in March 2000.  The Salvation Army is dedicated to helping those most in need in the National Capital area.