The Battle Creek Sanitarium: 100 Years Ago Today, Oct 26, 1920
The world-famous Battle Creek Sanitarium was the lifeblood of the city. A lot of people worked there, especially women who might not have found a place in the 1920 workforce in many cities.
A century ago today, October 20th, 1920, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg gathered the Battle Creek Sanitarium staff for a photograph.
Thanks to Dana Thornbury, at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center for sending the photo and some of this info along.
"They assembled on the south lawn of the world-famous health spa, standing together with signs identifying their departments. Truck drivers, nurses, and students posed next to doctors, sheet metal workers, and researchers, " writes Thornbury. "They all looked at the camera, the photographer pushed the button and that moment was frozen in time. They were alive when the Titanic sank, lived through World War I, and witnessed the 1918 flu pandemic. As they looked into that camera 100 years ago they could not know that they were about to experience the roaring twenties, see the stock market crash and face another world war."
The building that is seen in the background of the photograph features the second Sanitarium building, constructed after the turn-of-the-century fire that destroyed the original. And not seen in the photo is the Sanitarium Tower, which wouldn’t be built until 1929. We added a photo from the same period of the building itself.
So how much did it cost to stay at the Sanitarium 100 years ago? What was it like? Willard Library has a rate card on file from that time.
"An investment in health is the best possible investment." Rates in our new Battle Creek home range from $45.00 to $60.00 per week for a private room, board, treatment, daily consultation with the physician (except Sunday), gymnasium classes, dietetic instruction, health talks, and all privileges ordinarily accorded patrons. Rates are determined by the size and furnishings of the room selected. All rooms are private rooms, simply, but neatly furnished, with running water in each room. All patrons receive the same high degree of service and attention regardless of the rate paid. In addition to the rate for room, board, and treatment, there is an examination and entrance fee of $25.00 to be paid by each patron entering for the first time. This fee is paid but once. Aside from these mentioned charges, there are no extra fees.
Discount. We grant a cash discount of 5% on the weekly rate when the patron arranges for at least a four weeks' stay. A discount of 10% is granted to patrons who arrange for at least an eight weeks' stay.
Special Discount. We will grant a special discount of 10%, in addition to our usual discount to patrons who arrive for treatment between May 18 and June 15, 1920, and arrange for at least a four weeks' stay. Rest and Recreation Rate. For patrons desiring board, room, gymnasium classwork, health talks, dietetic demonstrations, entertainments, etc.--without consultation for treatment--the rates range from $27.50 to $42.50. Early reservation of rooms is urged.”
The building has changed hands a few times since the moment was captured. The Sanitarium buildings were purchased by the Army in 1942 and became the Percy Jones Army Hospital treating soldiers through World War and the Korean War. After that, it was home to multiple federal agencies.
Today the building is known as the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center and is managed by the General Service Administration. The largest tenet is the Defense Logistics Agency including the Headquarters for Disposition Services whose mission reflects the building’s history of being repurposed. DLA Disposition Services has 103 locations around the world where military units turn in and reutilize equipment.