Little known facts about The Salvation Army College for Officer Training (CFOT) at Crestmont
By Sheila Chatterjee –
1. CFOT rests on the site of former Japanese farmland. In the early 1900s, when the Palos Verdes Peninsula was mainly ranch land, Japanese farmers cultivated almost 2,000 coastal acres of the region including the land now owned by The Salvation Army. These farmers were later sent to the internment camp in Poston, Ariz., during WWII. Although few returned, there is one Japanese farm still left on the peninsula. This plot of land is leased to a farmer by the city of Rancho Palos Verdes and can still be seen from the windows of the campus library.
2. CFOT is now at its fourth location. The first was an iconic Salvation Army building located at 101 Valencia Street in San Francisco. In 1928, amid much fanfare, the college moved into a state-of-the-art campus in the 800 block of Silver Avenue in San Francisco. This property was lost during the Great Depression leading the college back to 101 Valencia. During WWII, the college shifted to the Japanese Divisional Headquarters at 1450 Laguna Street in San Francisco after the Army was unable to save its Japanese Division from Executive Order 90066. In spite of redevelopment programs, this area became plagued with crime and drugs in the 1970s. At that time, the Army began looking for more suitable, family-friendly areas for the campus and eventually found an ideal setting in Rancho Palos Verdes.
3. While considering new locations for the fourth training school, The Salvation Army considered partnering with University of the Pacific in Stockton to establish a training school that would collaborate with university’s sociology department.
4. In 1975, The Salvation Army purchased CFOT from Marymount University for $4.5 million. Marymount, an all-women’s college, built the 45-acre campus for an estimated $7 million in 1960. In 1973 they merged with Loyola University, became a four-year coed college and moved to another location in Rancho Palos Verdes.
5. The Western Territory launched an education center appeal during the mid 1970s to raise $6 million for the purchase of the new Crestmont campus and the establishment of an endowment fund. The success of this appeal allowed the Western Territory to pay off loans to Marymount five years after the sale of the property in 1975.
6. The name Crestmont was chosen because of the spectacular site and to honor the crowned international crest of The Salvation Army.
7. Until the college’s accreditation in 1985, cadets received an associate’s degree from the Universal College Program of Azusa Pacific College for their two years of training.
8. CFOT has undergone several name changes. Initially listed as The Salvation Army School for Officers’ Training, it became the College for Officer Training in 1993. In 1999, it switched to Crestmont College until the current name, The Salvation Army College for Officer Training was adopted in 2003.
9. In the past, the cadet schedule included a block of time for War Cry ministry. During this time, cadets would distribute the War Cry and accept donations at local venues every Friday.
10. The grounds of the college have been maintained by three generations of the Cuevas family. Anacleto Cuevas began working on the Marymount College grounds in the 1960s, planting some roses that remain on campus today. He is honored with a plaque and topiary outside of the conference center. He worked alongside his son Venancio Cuevas, who has beautified the campus for 36 years and, in turn, recruited two of his nephews to the college’s maintenance department.