Percy Jones Army Hospital Opened, February 21, 1943
Earlier this week we noted the day that the famous Battle Creek Sanitarium burned to the ground. It was February 18th, 1902. It was rebuilt the next year, and continued to be world famous, until the depression came along. The stock market crash of 1929 came just a year after the big tower addition at the Sanitarium. The timing of it was too much.
In 1942, the U. S. Army bought the buildings at 74 North Washington Avenue and established the Percy Jones General Hospital. Percy Jones was an army surgeon whose thirty-year career included commanding ambulance units during World War I.
Percy Jones Hospital was formally dedicated on February 21st, 1943. It had 1500 beds. During WWII, the whole military-medical complex eventually grew to include a unit at Fort Custer and R & R station at W K Kellogg’s manor house at Gull Lake.
The hospital was a major influence in Battle Creek as soldiers from all over the country were sent there to recover. The hospital specialized in neurosurgery, plastic surgery and the fitting of artificial limbs. Many underwent long-term hospitalizations for orthopedic injuries or burns. Some families moved to Battle Creek to be near sons or husbands. Many remained here after their discharge. Approximately 100,000 military patients were treated at the hospital before it closed permanently in 1953.
In 1954 the building became the Battle Creek Federal Center. In 2003, the building was re-dedicated as the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in honor of three U.S. senators who had met as wounded servicemen while they were being treated there during the war. Michigan Senator Philip Hart had been wounded during the Normandy Landings at Utah Beach on D-Day. Hart died in 1976, but the other two attended the re-dedication ceremonies. Bob Dole of Kansas, who was wounded in combat over Italy, and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who had been wounded while engaged in combat in Italy spoke in front of the building.