The facility has a colorful history intertwined with notable Americans. The property successively served as a sanitarium, military hospital, and offices.
In 1866 the Seventh Day Adventists established the Western Health Reform Institute on eight acres of land, the former residence of Benjamin Graves, a judge of the Michigan Superior Court. Dr. H. S. Lay, the first physician in charge, and James and Ellen White, early founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, were instrumental in founding this health institution. The goals of the institution were to teach the Adventists' version of holistic medicine, which stressed the importance of temperance and preventative medicine, taking in visitors and advocating the use of Graham bread and counseling eight hours of sleep at night. From this farmhouse the institution struggled to live up to its name but there were ideas and propositions for a building that would lead to a worldwide reputation.
In 1876, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, medical director, renamed the property and expanded the facility to include a hospital, central building, and other cottages. Much of the original sanitarium burned down in 1902. A large building by architect Frank Mills Andrews opened in 1903 at a cost of $1 million and was considered a marvel of modern planning and medical technology. Under Kellogg's auspices, the sanitarium expanded, and a tower addition was completed in 1928.
In 1942, the United States Army bought the buildings and converted them into the Percy Jones Army Hospital, a 1,500-bed military hospital for treating soldiers wounded in World War II. It was named the Percy Jones Army Hospital after Percy L. Jones, the renowned colonel who pioneered modern battlefield ambulance evacuation and was instrumental in creating the U.S. Army Ambulance Corps. The Army continued to operate the hospital through the Korean War. After treating nearly 95,000 patients, the hospital closed in 1953.
In 1954, the Federal Civil Defense Administration then took it over as the Battle Creek Federal Center and began housing federal agencies and activities, including a GSA Property and Administrative Services, the Defense Logistics Information Service (DLIS), the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS), and the Defense Logistics Agency Systems Integration Office (DSIO-J), among others.
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 at the hospital during WWII: Philip Hart of Michigan, who had been wounded during the Normandy Landings at Utah Beach on D-Day, 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.
The Center includes 21 buildings on 24 acres. Building types include offices, a power plant, workshops, and storage buildings. The main 1903 sanitarium building has a rectangular footprint with three wings radiating out from the main block. It is now referred to as Building 2, with the wings designated as Buildings 2A, 2B, and 2C. It is designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, which was commonly used for academic buildings in the early twentieth century. This was a logical choice for the sanitarium since Dr. Kellogg sought to educate his patients in the ways of healthy living.
The facade is composed of buff-colored brick with decorative details such as piers, belt courses, and quoins (corner blocks) executed in gray brick. Decorative pediments (triangular gables) are above entrances. Concrete columns mark the main entrance bay and are topped with plaster Ionic (scrolled) capitals. Arched openings form loggias, which are roofed spaces with open sides. The monumental building occupies a high point in the city and was originally five stories in height, with a compatibly designed sixth story added in 1920. Despite the changes in use, the building's exterior has not been altered substantially.
The first-floor lobby has an ornate plaster ceiling. The east wall of the lobby contains a tripartite leadedglass window; the center portion bears the inscription "He is Thy Life." The stairway to the mezzanine has a cast-iron balustrade with a wood railing and marble steps. The newel post contains classically inspired ornamentation appropriate to the building style.
The sixth-floor lobby contains four murals painted by J. J. Haidt in 1922. They are located on the coved ceiling and depict serene landscape scenes in pastel colors. Other interior spaces have changed dramatically. The solarium, gymnasium, and swimming pool have been removed.
The most prominent feature of the complex is the 15-story tower that was added to the south side of Building 2 in 1928. The tower, currently designated as Building 1, was designed to complement the existing main sanitarium building. The exterior remains unchanged and is clad in stone and different shades of brick. The facade is dominated by a two-story colonnade with 32 Ionic columns. Porte cochere pavilions are located at each end of the colonnade. The tower originally contained more than 265 hotel-like guest rooms and suites, most of which had private bathrooms. These spaces have been altered to accommodate government offices. The luxurious two-story lobby of the tower has twelve massive marble columns with imported Italian marble bases. The columns are topped with Corinthian capitals that feature acanthus leaf designs. The ceiling in the lobby is coffered (recessed) and detailed with floral motifs executed in rich colors. The lobby walls are covered with pink-gold marble, and gold chandeliers illuminate the space. Tall windows open to the colonnade. Building 1A was originally the sanitarium's lavish dining room. It retains many original features including large chandeliers and murals of Oriental scenes. Draperies, doors, and decorative moldings have been restored. The room retains much of its original character and serves as a cafeteria today.1866: Sanitarium opens
1902: Fire destroys earliest buildings
1903: New five-story building completed
1920: Sixth story added to main building
1928: Tower completed
1942: U.S. Army purchases site for use as hospital
1954: Federal Civil Defense Administration moves into complex
1974: Buildings 2, 2A, 2B, and 2C listed in the National Register of Historic Places
1996: Interior renovation completed
2003: Complex renamed Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center
Location: 74 North Washington Street
Architects: Frank M. Andrews; Merritt Morehouse
Construction Dates: 1902-1903; 1920; 1928
Landmark Status: Buildings 2, 2A, 2B, and 2C listed in the National Register of Historic Places; Buildings 1 and 1A eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places
Architectural Style: Italian Renaissance Revival
Primary Material: Buff-Colored Brick
Prominent Features: 15-Story Tower Ionic Colonnade
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