On May 12, 1886 at 116 E. Douglas, Captain Cunningham led the first Salvation Army meeting in
the city of Wichita.
By the next year, under the leadership of two other sisters, The Salvation Army was ready to
begin a permanent presence in Wichita. Captain and Lieutenant Kline began the full-time ministry in the
Hacker & Jackson Building at 601 East Douglas.
By 1906, the world was evolving: The Football Rules Committee legalized the forward pass,
Einstein introduced his Theory of Relativity and the first Salvation Army building in Kansas was openedby Major William G. Houser. 126 North Topeka Avenue, of Wichita, Kansas was the site of the first Salvation Army building built in the state. The cornerstone from that building would later be presentedto Camp Hiawatha. In the 40’s this building would also headquarter the Wichita City Command Offices.
As the years went on, the Salvation soldiers of Wichita never quit responding to the needs of
those around them. In 1921, Commander Dennis and Captain Benson oversaw a complete renovation of
old Wesley Hospital at 1103 North Saint Francis. Upon completion of the renovation, The Salvation Army
opened it as a hospital for unmarried mothers. In 1925, this ministry moved into the newly opened
Booth Memorial Hospital at 2050 West 11th. Booth Memorial Hospital also housed the offices for the
Wichita City Command. This building continues to minister to the people of Wichita, now serving as a
rehabilitation center, named Riverside Academy.
In 1934, while the world was taking notice of Shirley Temple starring in her first movie, and a
new German political leader, others were taking notice of The Salvation Army’s influence in Wichita.
A.A. Hyde, founder of “ The Mentholatum Company” donated a tract of land, located eight miles north
of Wichita, to be developed into a camp for mothers and children. It is known today as Camp Hiawatha.
In 1936 The Salvation Army of Wichita was celebrating their 50th anniversary. The city –represented by such civic leaders as Mayor Robert E. Israel, former mayor James Schuyler Crawford andthe editor and owner of the Wichita Eagle Newspaper, Victor Murdock - laid a plaque honoring 50 years of Salvation Army ministry in Wichita. The plaque read: “Upon this spot, Captain Belle Cunningham amid persecution opened the work of The Salvation Army in the city of Wichita. To commemorate this event, this tablet is affectionately dedicated.” It was laid in the spot where Captain Belle held the first open air. In the years since, this original plaque has been replaced with one that reads simply, “The Salvation Army May 12, 1886.”
1952 – Queen Elizabeth II is crowned Queen of the UK, Mr. Potato Head debuts and Wichita
Citadel is ready for a move. After 46 years on N. Topeka Ave, Wichita Citadel was relocated to 136 N.
Emporia Street, where it remained until the move into their current location.
Two years later, in 1954 The Salvation Army Biddy Basketball program opened and ran
continuously until 2011. At one time, The Salvation Army Biddy program was one of the biggest in the
By 1997, the world had changed – becoming more advanced and connected. Scientists
successfully cloned a sheep named “Dolly,” Mercury Mail reported it had its 1 millionth internet
subscriber and The Salvation Army Wichita City Command was keeping up with changing times. They
opened the Koch Center on 350 North Market where the many ministries offered by the Salvation Army
of Wichita are coordinated – continuing to this day.
Today, The Salvation Army serves Wichita at four locations. The City Command/Koch Center at 350 N. Market, The Citadel Corps Community Center at 1739 S Elpyco, The West Orchard Corps Community Center at 1910 S Everett and Hiawatha Camp and Retreat Center at 1601 W 51st Street North.
Majors Joseph and Lois Wheeler were assigned to Wichita as City Commander and Command Officer for Program development effective January 24, 2015. The Wheelers bring extensive experience in Salvation Army programming and Administration and lead the mission in Sedgwick County, after serving at Territorial Headquarters as Territorial Evangelists and Spiritual Formation Secretaries.
Click here for a perspective on William Booth's Promotion to Glory, August 20, 1912