The last time the Salvation Army conducted a capital campaign in Boise was in 1968, when the private evangelical and charitable group raised money to build dormitories, a chapel and kitchen at the Booth Memorial Home for unwed mothers.
The Salvation Army, which began offering services in Boise in 1888, two years before Idaho became a state, went to the community again four years ago to fund a new $11.5 million campus in West Boise.
Known today as the Booth Marian Pritchett School, the program provides education in academics, parenting and life skills for pregnant and parenting teenage girls. The school, which has operated in the North End since 1964, opened Sept. 30 at the new campus at 9492 W. Emerald St.
“It’s so exciting to see everything come to fruition,” said Lindsay Klein, the Salvation Army’s director of social services in Boise. “To be a part of this and being able to build this building and help folks better themselves and build brighter futures for their kiddos is something I hold really near to my heart.”
Klein led an Idaho Statesman reporter and photographer on a tour of the building ahead of a ribbon-cutting and open house on Saturday, Oct. 19.. The ribbon-cutting will take place at 11 a.m., with tours until 2 p.m.
The 40,000-square-foot building houses the school, a food pantry, a chapel, a library, a game room and a store with diapers and children’s clothes. It also houses the New Horizon Academy, a child care and early education center with room to care for 70 youngsters, from babies to 5-year-olds, and the Salvation Army’s programs to help families rise above poverty.
There’s a gymnasium, something the Salvation Army hasn’t had before. It will be used for basketball and volleyball and for after-school activities for children who attend the nearby Horizon Elementary School, at 730 N. Mitchell St.
“I have so many fond memories of our old places, but it’s so exciting to have pride in a new space and to be able to share that with the community,” Klein said.
The new campus is on 5 acres previously owned by White-Leasure Development Co. It brings together Salvation Army programs from three locations. The Booth Pritchett School and the Salvation Army’s Boise offices were previously located at 1617 N. 24th St.
A thrift store at 4308 W. State St., which closed in June, contained the group’s food pantry and social services offices now based on the Emerald Street campus. And a building at 19th and Jefferson streets previously held the offices that moved to the Booth Pritchett School after that property was sold.
Two of the three properties were sold to developers to help fund the new campus.
George Cooper of Westminster II LLC submitted plans in August to build eight single-family homes and five condominiums at the 24th Street site. Three of the condos will be developed in the historic Booth Home and two inside the chapel building.
The State Street thrift store building is listed for sale for $3.1 million.
The food pantry, which serves 30,000 people a year, closed for about three weeks while freezers were moved from the State Street store to the new campus. It re-opened Oct. 1. Families can come every 60 days and choose enough food for 10 to 14 days.
The school has 18 students in ninth through 12th grades who are on campus during the day and then go home.. Girls stopped living at the home 15 to 20 years ago, Klein said. The campus has room for many more — up to 125 students.
The Booth experience has changed greatly since it was established in 1921, Klein said. Then, a young pregnant woman’s absence from her community was explained away by saying she was with relatives out of state.
“If you stayed with us back then, we were ‘Aunt Sally’ for those nine months,” Klein said. “She would place her child up for adoption, and she’d go home.”
That was a “very hard, dark chapter” in that woman’s life,” Klein said.
In the 1960s, Salvation Army officers decided the girls who were staying at the home needed to continue their schooling rather than drop out. In 1964, the Salvation Army partnered with the Boise School District to provide girls at the home classes taught by district teachers and allow them to graduate with a diploma.
Salvation Army officers researched the best place to build the new campus and decided on Emerald Street between Maple Grove and Mitchell streets.
“We felt this was a good fit for the community, because there’s not a library within a mile and a half,” Klein said. “There’s not another food pantry within a mile and a half. The closest grocery store is a mile away. There’s no after-school opportunities for low-income kiddos. And there’s no Boys and Girls Club close to here.”