Philly Block Project

The Salvation Army

Did you know that South Kensington is home to the nation’s first Salvation Army? Located at 4th and Oxford, the building represents the English organization’s first foothold in the United States.

Lieutenant Eliza Shirley had left England to join her parents, who had migrated to America earlier in search for work. In 1879, she held the first meeting of The Salvation Army in Philadelphia.

As her mother joined in the Army work in America, the two searched for a better place to meet. They found an abandoned chair factory, and hung posters announcing “Two Hallelujah Females!” As people people gathered in the open air, however, police insisted they move to a vacant lot nearby.

The group continued to grow that year, and after glowing reports of their work in Philadelphia, Salvation Army founder William Booth was convinced to send an official group to pioneer the work in America. The rest is history!