On February 5, 1913, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg bought the former Phelps Sanitarium from C. W. Post, fulfilling a prophecy he made 13 years earlier.

The fieldstone structure was originally dedicated in the fall of 1900.  It was built by brothers O.S. and Neil S. Phelps as a sanitarium to rival Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium down the street and was reputed to be the largest fieldstone building in the U.S.  It cost $250,000 to build and was designed by Robert T. Newberry, the architect of the Post Tavern.

The story goes that Dr. Kellogg was taking a stroll in 1899 and stopped to comment to the workmen, telling them “Be sure and build it well because one day I will take it over.”

The Phelps Brothers went bankrupt in four years.  C. W. Post bought it in 1904 and owned it for a time and used it as a home for his Trades and Workers Association labor union. After it sat empty for a time, it was then used by Bernarr “Bare Torso” MacFadden in July of 1906.  MacFadden was a prominent turn-of-the-century health guru, a culturist and magazine publisher, and ran the Bernarr MacFadden Sanatorium, which lasted only three years.

In 1913, Dr. Kellogg took over and used the building as a Sanitarium Annex. It was used as the headquarters for the Race Betterment Foundation as well as a dormitory for nursing students at Battle Creek College.  In 1942 when the main Sanitarium was sold to the federal government to become Percy Jones Army Hospital. The building then became the main Sanitarium. W.K. Kellogg tried to talk his brother out of it, saying that it was too much of a job for a 90-year-old. Dr. Kellogg died the next year.

Battle Creek Sanitarium Annex Dining Room-Willard Library
Battle Creek Sanitarium Annex Dining Room-Willard Library

In 1957, the building was purchased by a group of Seventh Day Adventist doctors.  The modern annex (which now remains) was built in 1970.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson spoke in front of the Fieldstone Building.

The original Fieldstone building was demolished in 1985.  By all accounts, it was a beautiful building, steeped with Battle Creek history, but just never found its niche.

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