A little photo mystery solving!

Salvation Army Group

Salvation Army Group

Recently a patron called asking if we could identify the location of where a picture was taken. She found a photo on our website that she said was strikingly similar to a photo of her grandparents’ wedding. The people in our photo were not in her photo but the trellis and decorations were all the same. She assumed that our photo was taken at the same church or hall. She never knew where her grandparents were married but she knew they were involved in the Salvation Army. She was convinced that it was at the same place as seen in this photo.

I decided to look at the original photo to see if there was any information written on the back identifying its location but there was none. The original photo belongs to the Robinson Studio Collection and so I checked to see if there were any other Salvation Army photos in the collection. I found one box filled with negatives of Salvation Army photographs. As you can see in the upper corner of this photo there appears to be words painted on the wall. I looked at several of the negatives and they showed scenes in a hall with a stage and above the stage were the words “Holiness Unto The Lord.” The lettering matched what is barely visible in this photo. But I still did not know if this was in a church or other hall. Finally I came upon one negative showing the hall that was kept in a folder labelled “Salvation Army 227 Pearl”.

Salvation Army Citadel, 1960

Salvation Army Citadel, 1960

Next I went to the city directory for that time and it showed the Salvation Army Citadel and Headquarters at 227 Pearl St. NW. I then entered the address into Bing Maps and it put me at the valet parking entrance to the Amway Grand Hotel. It appeared the building no longer stood. It then occurred to me that we might have a photo of the building in our Real Estate Listing Cards. There I found a photo of what the building looked like from the outside near the time of its demolition in 1960. I also found a newspaper article from the Grand Rapids Press on July 1, 1960 with the headline “Citadel Gives Way to Modern Need–Parking”. After my discovery I called the patron back and let her know what I’d found. She was thrilled to learn where her grandparents were married and to learn a little bit more about her own photo. Now we just need some help identifying who the people are in our photo–anyone?

2 Responses to “A little photo mystery solving!”

  1. January 26, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    Great job, Ben! Thanks for sharing.

  2. February 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    My great-great grandfather was James Lowe, who was responsible for bringing the Salvation Army to Grand Rapids in 1883. I'd be curious to know when the Salvation Army Citadel (pictured above) was built. Is this the original building or was there one before this?
    Thanks!