(The story of the sanitarium is an extensive one...this is just a nutshell version for an easier read.)

For $11,000, a farm was purchased in Battle Creek on which the Western Health Reform Institute was developed – and opened on September 5, 1866. The staff and patients included “two doctors, two bath attendants, one nurse (untrained), three or four helpers, and one patient.”  The institute had accommodations for 12 patients which soon filled to capacity. Seeing that more room and more staff was needed, an urgent plea was sent: “hustle young men off to some doctor mill, and get ready. Our institute buildings are already larger than our doctors.” One of those young men happened to be John H. Kellogg.

After refusals and threats to close down the institute, Kellogg hesitantly accepted the position of Physician-in-Chief. Kellogg went to work in an attempt to clean up the place. Food was terrible, bathing conditions were filthy, and patient bills weren’t being paid. Kellogg added new procedures, methods, and equipment and went to work to improve patient dietary foods.

In 1876, Kellogg changed the name to ‘Medical and Surgical Sanitarium’ hoping to give it a brighter, more hopeful look to the public.

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1878: Kellogg opens the new 130-foot long sanitarium…and for a number of years ever since, Kellogg kept adding to the sanitarium’s structure…and then, as with so many Michigan structures, tragedy struck in the form of fire.

At 3:48am on February 18, 1902 a couple was awakened by an odd thumping sound; upon opening their bedroom door, they saw a cloud of black smoke creeping through the hallway. They ran down the hall, pounding on doors to wake everyone, and soon the staff had successfully evacuated all 407 sanitarium dwellers. The fire spread and soon the whole sanitarium – and a home across the street – was burned to the ground.

Kellogg wasted no time in planning to rebuild; he and his brother quickly donated and raised the funds needed and on May 31 1903, the new sanitarium opened.

As the 1900s continued, Kellogg’s plan to bring celebrities into the sanitarium was implemented. Not because they were in ill health, but to show the public even the rich and famous endorsed the sanitarium. Soon, the hospital was being praised by the likes of Calvin Coolidge, Amelia Earhart, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, the Rockefellers, the Roosevelts, William Howard Taft, and many more.

When the Great Depression hit in 1929, the sanitarium began its decline. In 1938 they almost filed bankruptcy, despite Kellogg’s attempts to save the hospital. The U.S. government bought the buildings in 1942 and used it for a hospital for wounded WWII soldiers. In 1954 it was turned into a federal office building.

In 1986, the gym, solarium, and swimming pool were demolished.
The remainder of the sanitarium is located at 74 N. Washington Street, Battle Creek.

There is much more, extensive info on the sanitarium here.
But first take a look at the gallery below.

A Peek Inside the Old Battle Creek Sanitarium: 1876-1940


Inside the Haunted Eloise Asylum

Traverse City Asylum, Re-Visited 2022

Abandoned Native American Boarding School & Asylum, Mount Pleasant

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