The Salvation Army officially commenced operations in the United States with the arrival of Commissioner George Scott Railton and the “Hallelujah Lassies” in New York, March 10, 1880. The training of officers proceeded informally from then until 1882 with the establishment of the first regular training program for the instruction of male cadets in the U.S. at the Brooklyn Lyceum. A National Training Home for Women was opened in Brooklyn in April, 1888, and a Training Home for Men was opened in October of that year in Manhattan. Smaller Training Homes came to be called Training Garrisons.
By 1905 “Officer Training Colleges” replaced these garrisons and were located in Chicago and New York City. A fire razed the New York College in 1918, but by 1919 the West Tremont and University place in the Bronx became the location for training in New York City until the move to Suffern, NY in 1972.
The designation of “Officer Training College” was in practice until 1960 when the State of New York mandated the change to “School for Officer Training.” The SFOT maintained this designation, eventually progressing toward state accreditation. It became a degree-granting accredited educational institution in 2005. The School awarded the Associate in Occupational Studies for the next six years, when the application to upgrade to the Associate in Applied Sciences was accepted. This was awarded to graduating cadets commissioned in June, 2012.
In November of 2012, the New York State Board of Regents and the Secretary of State granted TheSalvation Army’s petition to become “The Salvation Army College for Officer Training.” The College for Officer Training (CFOT) was reaccredited by the New York State Board of Regents beginning in January 2015, for a continuing period of seven years.
The thirty acre campus in Suffern has allowed steady expansion to The Salvation Army’s educational programs and work. To the original mansion and school building were added Pepper Residence Hall (1979), Woodland Apartments for staff and faculty (1984), Davidson Residence Hall, gymnasium/auditorium and maintenance centers in 1988 and an Administration Building with library and chapel, actually replacing the mansion in 1990. More recent projects have included the renovation of the Mumford Cottage and the construction of the Rader Court Apartments. The expansion of the cadet dining hall, student center, Brengle Library, Davidson Hall gym and a state of the art lecture hall were completed in early 2001. These facilities were dedicated by the Chief of the Staff, Commissioner John Larsson, on February 17, 2001.
Most recently, additions to the campus physical facilities include the Major Florence King Education Wing (2005, dedicated May 3rd of that year) and a new 16-unit apartment complex, the Colonel Milton S. Agnew Hall, dedicated in June, 2006. The King Education Wing currently houses the administrative offices of the Curriculum Department while the Agnew Apartments are used for cadet and staff housing, and fitness training.