The Salvation Army opened its first assignment in Athens on March 12, 1916, and remained here until October 3, 1916, because the Athens Corps (church) was closed due to World War I.
The work of The Salvation Army reopened on February 23, 1919 at 205 1/2 North Jackson St. Thirteen years later in 1932, the first Empty Stocking Fund ever staged here was organized with assistance from the manager of Gallant-Belk Co., a local radio station, and Jack Martin who was well-known in the Athens area as the voice of “Santa Claus.”
In 1942, in the midst of World War II, The Salvation Army’s Corps Officers were Captain Mary Highcheck and assistant Lt. Louise Landers. Captain Highcheck requested a leave of absence in order that she might do her part in the war effort by joining the WAC’s. Due to a shortage of official personnel, The Salvation Army Georgia Divisional Headquarters was contemplating closing the work in Athens. A devoted Sunday School teacher, Mary Peacock, was approached and asked to consider quitting her job at a hosiery mill and taking on the the work of keeping the Athens Corps alive. She was given two weeks to learn about the administration of The Salvation Army, and then she went to work.
At that time, The Salvation Army was renting 3 different buildings for its programs. Miss Mary (retiring at the rank of Major) set out to secure property for the work. There was a building on College Avenue which the city had obtained because of delinquent taxes. She approached the city official in regard to this building, asking if they would give it to the Army. She was told it would have to be put up for public sale, and she should come to the courthouse and place a bid. There was only one other person there to bid against her. Miss Mary told him he was wasting his time, as she was sure the Lord wanted that building for the work of The Salvation Army. He left, and she bought the building for $25. That building became the chapel, living quarters, and activities department. Miss Mary also was able to purchase a home for the transient lodge on Strong Street.
In 1966, The Army moved into the old armory building in southeast corner of Hancock and North Thomas Street. On Sept. 24, 1967, the fiftieth anniversary of The Salvation Army’s service in Athens was marked by the dedication of the new facility on North Chase Street. Two years later, the new Transient Building opened at 399 Meigs St.
After operating a make-shift thrift store in the basement of 399 Meigs Street, The Army relocated the first full Athens Thrift Store to 470 Oconee Street in June 1979. Soon after renovating the basement of 399 Meigs Street, The Army also opend the first Women’s Shelter in November of 1980.
The current thrift store, administrative offices, and shelter on Hawthorne St were dedicated on June 11, 2002.
The work of The Salvation Army in Athens, GA, is a proud tradition of serving the community in Jesus Christ’s name, and we look forward to breaking new ground spiritually as well as physically for the Kingdom of God.