BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The man who made Battle Creek the Cereal Capital also paved the way for the nickname “The Health City.”
In the 1990s the Adventist Heritage Ministries opened the Dr. John Harvey Kellogg Discovery Center.
Dr. J. H. Kellogg was a “widely respected physician and popular wellness guru who had many forward-thinking treatment ideas—and many that now appear downright wacky,” according to the History Channel’s website.
When Kellogg was 16 years old, he worked as a school teacher in Hastings while his half-brother, Merrit Kellogg, was going to medical school. James and Ellen White, two members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, convinced Merrit Kellogg to take John Harvey Kellogg with him to medical school, leading J.H. Kellogg to become a doctor.
“Well John didn’t want to be a doctor, he wanted to be a school teacher. But when he went to medical school, he fell in love with medicine,” Don Scherencel, director of the Dr. J. H. Kellogg Discovery Center, said.
After completing his studies, Kellogg agreed to return to Battle Creek to be the medical director of the Western Health Reform Institute for one year and ended up staying.
In 1878, a new building was erected called the Battle Creek Medical and Surgical Sanitarium, Scherencel explained.
“At that time the word ‘sanitarium’ didn’t exist. They had a word called ‘sanatorium.’ That’s where people with tuberculosis when to die,” he said. “John Kellogg said sanitarium is where he’s going to teach people how to live so they didn’t have to go to the hospital.”
Patients from all over came to “The Health City” to learn to be healthier. They used methods like colonics, healthy diets and blood circulation machines.
To help promote blood circulation, Kellogg invented a number of machines that vibrate to get the blood moving. The Dr. J. H. Kellogg Discovery Center rescued a number of those machines in the 1980s and they are now on display.
“We have a foot vibrator where four people could sit there it shakes your feet, vibrates your feet and that was for blood circulation,” Scherencel said.
There’s also a vibrating chair that would help with nervous fatigue, muscular weakness, constipation as well as blood circulation.
“You sit in the chair, you push the button and it would shake so fast that if you were sitting on the chair and I was standing watching you, I wouldn’t even see you moving but I could hear it in your voice,” Scherencel said.
The museum also has a mechanical camel and horse. Kellogg used this to promote his back-to-nature lifestyle “Biologic Living.”
“They are working. You can push a button and watch them do their stuff,” Scherencel said.
According to the History Channel, President Calvin Coolidge had one of the mechanical horses in the White House.
Kellogg was known to use light baths to treat different ailments instead of bloodletting.
“They lay down on a table and they slide you in. It kind of looks like an MRI machine. They turn the lights on and it heats the body up to 105 degrees. It would cause you to sweat the poisons out of the body,” Scherencel explained.
The museum has a second light bath that patients would sit in.
“It closes up and it looks kind of like a sauna. That one heats up to 150 degrees so that one would have had to have a tenant on the outside so they could keep track of people so they wouldn’t dehydrate,” Scherencel said.
The discovery center is open from November to March from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with tours happening at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. A Saturday tour is at 2 p.m. From April to October, the discovery center is open Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with tours happening at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The discovery center is open on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pre-registration for tours is recommended.
For more information on the discovery center, click here.
*Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series exploring small community museums around West Michigan. More articles will be published on woodtv.com in the coming weeks.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly named John Harvey Kellogg’s brother. We regret this error which has been corrected.