An excavator tears down the Salvation Army Booth Centre on Cumberland Street on Monday morning.

Demolition of the Salvation Army’s old Booth centre on North Cumberland street began on Monday.

Amid light flurries, a large excavator rolled off a flatbead truck as three workers in blue hazmat suits went into the building for one last inspection of the empty building that is now dwarfed on the site by the Salvation Army’s newly-opened Journey to Life Centre.

With an “all clear” sign from the inspectors, the excavator roared to life on Monday morning. In no time, a corner of the building was gone. By 4:30 p.m., the entire building was flattened.

Gary Ferguson, executive director of the Salvation Army Journey To Life Centre, says the old structure was built around the mid-1950s and the Salvation Army acquired it in 1971.

The organization re-purposed the building and used it for almost 50 years. Considering it was never built to house people residentially, the group made good use of the building as they served the needy through the decades.

Thousands of clients stayed at the centre, which was also known as Booth house. At one point there were more than 100 people staying at the shelter at one time.

Staff and residents have all moved next door to the new Journey to Life centre which will now be their new home.

Gail Kromm, the community engagement manager with the centre, says it will take a few days to clean up the rubble at the site but the work is expected to be finished by the end of the week.