The New Salvation Army Building
By Mary Lou Durbin

 

The new Salvation Army building in Plymouth, Michigan was initiated for service to the community Sunday, April 24, 1983. This was the culmination of several years of great effort exerted by then Corps Officers William and Susan Harfoot and the Plymouth-Canton community.

The Plymouth Salvation Army Corps invested approximately $590,000 into the renovation of the former Main Street Baptist Church. This included building an addition to the former child building1.

 

Background

Community support and respect for The Salvation Army in Plymouth was influential in the success of this effort. This love for the Army was rooted at the time when the first corps was opened in Plymouth in 1929 by Frank and Florence Wright. Plymouth was the first appointment for these newly commissioned officers.2

 Through the years, civic groups, including the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, and strong advisory boards have remained primary allies of The Salvation Army in Plymouth. Newspaper editors and staff have given beneficial support. This really cites only a few of the support services that have helped.

 

The Building Effort

Involved in the successful work were several components: community support, strong chairmanship of fundraising, communication and leadership provided by the corps officers and the advisory board.

When the plans were first initiated in 1980, Kal Jabara was chairman of The Salvation Army's fundraising committee.

Kal began early to inform the community of the need for expanded facilities. He enlisted support and aid. Kal worked with the corps officers in preparing publicity information and presented it to the community. He reviewed the Army's service to the people in the Plymouth-Canton area, the need for expansion, and the plan for the future.

"Even as facilities grow old and worn under the volume of usage and the ravages of time, demands for Salvation Army services in Plymouth continue to increase. While many services are already provided in our existing building, demands for expanded services require that we move to a new building."3

  The people in the Plymouth Corps were kept informed through information and specific planning meetings conducted by Lt. Harfoot.

Fundraising goals included contributions from the public, civic clubs and business organizations. The corps members assumed responsibility for the furnishings in the new church.

One of the largest gifts ever given by the Rotary Foundation was a gift of $10,000 toward the Army's new building. This came from the receipts of the Rotary's annual chicken barbeque at the Plymouth Fall Festival.4

Cost Estimates

Building Construction $300,000
Architectural and Engineering Fees $15,000
Purchase of Land $200,000
Demolition of Building on the New Site $5,000
Site Work (Landscaping, Parking Lot, etc) $30,000
Furniture, Equipment, Endowment, Campaign Expenses, and Related Costs $40,000

Total $590,000

 

The Army's Counselors

Counselors who worked with Lt. Harfoot were the Plymouth Salvation Army Advisory Board and the Capital Funds Campaign Steering Committee. Attached is a list of these members.

 Expansion Plan Proceedings

 The setting of the schedule for obtaining necessary approval for the initiation of the plans was concurrently with and following the fundraising effort.

During the first months of 1981, the path was smoothed for the approval to be granted by the Plymouth Township Planning Commission. This goal was not achieved, however, without much thought and careful attention to details.

The application was presented for approval of the Army's proposal to build the $500,000 headquarters on Main Street in Plymouth. The plan included renovation of the Main Street Baptist Church to include a chapel, meeting and recreation rooms, and a kitchen and dining area. A 7,000 square foot addition would be built to the site.

In July 1981, the township trustees approved the rezoning. The property was rezoned from commercial to office use. Under this classification, churches may develop with conditional approval.

In August 1981, the Army was granted conditional approval by the Plymouth Township Planning Commission, but was requested to return in September to explain plans for meeting the parking requirements.

Conditions for the conditional permit were as follows:

    1. Parking requirements (one parking space per three seats). The corps officers planned for seating capacity of 120, with 47 parking spaces, which exceeded the Township requirements.
    2. No entrance or exit would be allowed off Ball Street, and abutting side street.
    3. Landscape buffers would be planted along Ball Street and Main, particularly where houses exist.

Many neighborhood residents were opposed to the rezoning, but approval was granted, and the initial schedule for beginning constructions was November 1981. Opening of the facility was planned for the following year.5

Publicity was continuous during the progress of the project, and the communication was beneficial to success. The enthusiasm of Lt. and Mrs. Harfoot and that of Kal Jabara prevailed.

The Ground Breaking

There was a delay of three months before the final plan was submitted to the commission. The January 1982 ground breaking had been scheduled earlier, but Salvation Army planners had requested the tabling of the item from the December meeting of the commission.

The ground breaking started an hour before the meeting of the commission in which the final site plan was approved. The ground breaking had been scheduled for this date three months earlier, and could not be changed.

The ceremony was attended by the following:
Maurice Breen, Plymouth Township Supervisor
Henry Graper, Jr., Plymouth City Manager
Jim Poole, Cantaon Township Supervisor
Kal Jabara, Capital Committee Chairman
Lt. Colonel Harold E. Shoults, Salvation Army Divisional Commander
Richard Raison, Administrative Board Chairman for the Salvation Army
Don Bidwell, Contractor6

 

 Sources:

  1. "New Beginning Marked Sunday" Observer and Eccentric. April 21, 1983.
  2. "Salvation Army's History Intermeshed with Community." Observer and Eccentric. April 21, 1983.
  3. "Message from Kal Jabara" The Surprising Salvation Army (publicity pamphlet).
  4. "Salvation Army Seeking New Home" W.W. Edgar, Observer and Eccentric.
  5. "Expansion Plans Proceeding" Teri Banas, Observer and Eccentric. August 24, 1981.
  6. "Salvation Army Breaks Ground" Ken Voyles, Observer and Eccentric. January 20, 1982.

Salvation Army Advisory Board (1981)
William C. Sliger, Chairman
Richard H. Raison, Vice Chairman
Mrs. Ann Taylor, Secretary
Donald Sutherland, Treasurer
Harold Fischer
Roger A. Haslick
Harold F. Head
James M. Jabara
Mrs. George Johnson
Carl Lampton
Gene Overholt
Frank Palmer
Edwin A. Schrader, Jr.
Dr. A. E. Van Ornum

 Capital Funds Campaign Steering Committee
Kal Jabara, Chairman
Harold F. Head, Vice Chairman
Robert K. Barbour
Leo Calhoun
Kenneth Currie
Angelo DiPonio
Harold Fischer
Gary E. Hall, DDS
Roger A. Haslick
Kenneth L. Hulsing
James M. Jabara
Mrs. George Johnson
Carl Lampton
James B. McKeon
Frank Palmer
Richard H. Raison
William C. Sliger
Mrs. Robert Taylor
Dr. Alden E. VanOrnum