You are here

Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center (Battle Creek Sanitarium)

-A A +A
Battle Creek Sanitarium
1902–1903, Frank M. Andrews; 1907–1908 Towers, Merritt J. Morehouse. 74 N. Washington Ave.

Under the direction of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (1852–1943), the Western Health Reform Institute founded in 1866 by the Seventh-Day Adventists became, in 1876, the Battle Creek Sanitarium. A “sanitary retreat for the restoration of bodily health and for training in the right and healthy way to live,” the sanitarium served a predominantly wealthy clientele, eventually numbering nearly ten thousand a year. Experiments conducted at the sanitarium by Dr. Kellogg and his younger brother, Will Keith Kellogg (1860–1951), led to the development of new grain and nut products, including dry flake cereal. In 1906, W. K. Kellogg withdrew to what is now Kellogg's.

The first sanitarium main building, a Second Empire structure erected in 1878, burned in 1902. In 1902–1903 the Michigan Sanitarium and Benevolent Association constructed the lower, main part of the present building. Designed by Andrews of Dayton, the five- and six-story, 580-foot-long “Temple of Health,” as the Battle Creek Daily Moon (June 1, 1903) referred to it, is Beaux-Arts classical in design. It has a reinforced-concrete frame and floors and a light yellowish-gray brick exterior. Its formal exterior features a projecting pedimented central pavilion of Ionic columns, which is balanced by pedimented end pavilions. Three wings at the rear, containing the women's baths, a gymnasium, and the men's baths, radiate from a rotunda that originally held a palm garden.

The fifteen-story Beaux-Arts classical Towers addition, at the south end facing the N. Washington Avenue and Champion Street intersection, has a dramatic two-story-high Ionic colonnaded loggia across the primary facade and copper copings, cornices, and roofing. It contains 265 guest rooms, now converted into offices. A luxurious two-story lobby, with fluted marble Corinthian columns, a coffered ceiling, and a mezzanine, gave access to men's and women's parlors. Connected to the Towers at the rear was the grand dining room, now the federal center cafeteria, which had a seating capacity of between 750 and 1,000. Standing on one of Battle Creek's highest points, the Towers, with its massive, anthemion-decorated copper cornices, is a landmark from every part of town.

East of the Towers, at Champion and Brook streets, is the former sanitarium gymnasium (late 1920s), now the Battle Creek Central High School Field House. Its arched form and massive masonry construction are strongly reminiscent of George Maher's demolished Northwestern University field house in Evanston, Illinois. The grounds originally were fully landscaped with gardens, walks, and fountains. The sanitarium was self-sufficient; it operated its own farms, greenhouses, dairy, creamery, orchards, power plant, water, and water-softening plants.

Hard pressed by the Great Depression, the sanitarium declared bankruptcy and went into receivership in 1933, and in 1942 the buildings were purchased by the U.S. Army for use as the Percy Jones Army Hospital from 1942 to 1953. When the hospital closed, the building complex became the Battle Creek Federal Center. The interior was renovated in 1996 and the complex renamed in 2003.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.