Timeline: Battle Creek

1836

First Methodist Church organized.

1841

First United Methodist Church erects a small frame building for worship.

1850

First building of the First Baptist Church completed.

1859

Battle Creek incorporated as a city.

1863

First Catholic pastor assigned to St. Philip’s Catholic Church (church recognized by diocese as permanent).

1866

Sanitarium founded by the Adventists as the Western Health Reform Institute.

1867

Sojourner Truth moves into the town of Battle Creek.

1868

Hamblin Opera House completed.

1869

Hamblin Opera House dedicated.

Martin E. Brown starts the newspaper, The Nightly Moon.

The exclusive Washingtonian Club dedicated.

1870

The hotel, the Potter House, opens.

First high school built in Battle Creek.

1871

First Baptist Church moves to 80 E. Michigan Avenue.

1872

Battle Creek Weekly Journal and the Daily Journal founded.

1875

John Harvey Kellogg receives a Doctor of Medicine degree from Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

1876

John Harvey Kellogg becomes Director of the Health Reform Institute.

John Harvey Kellogg becomes the medical superintendent of what would become the Battle Creek Sanitarium.

1878

Battle Creek Sanitarium built.

1881

Advance Thresher Co. founded in Battle Creek (firm liquidated in the 1930s).

1883

Sojourner Truth dies in Battle Creek.

1884

Fredrick Douglass is the keynote speaker at an Emancipation Day celebration in Battle Creek.

Battle Creek is the scene of the first state Convention of Colored Voters of the United States.

Irving Stone founds the Duplex Printing Press Co.

Union Pump Co. founded in Battle Creek.

1886

Jefferson School (No. 4) built on East Fountain and Jefferson Streets.

Kimball House built.

1887

Battle Creek’s water supply started.

1890

Battle Creek residents meet to organize the Colored Protective League. The League was strongly opposed by the city
council members, who feared it might injure the chances of the Republican Party.

1890-91

Prospect School (No. 8) built at Kendall and Grove Streets.

1891

Charles William Post checks into the Sanitarium.

CW Post creates the cereal drink that becomes Postum.

1892

Charles William Post purchases the Beardsley Farm, on the east end of town, where he opens La Vita Inn.

1893

Battle Creek’s sewage system created.

Jefferson School burns down.

1894

Jefferson School rebuilt.

Kellogg invents flaked cereal.

1895

C.W. Post founds the Postum Cereal Company.

Union Pump Co. moves to 87 SW Capital.

1896

In June, heavy rains create flooding; Adam & Smith carriage manufacturing shop, built in 1850, destroyed.

The new First Presbyterian Church built on corner of McCamly and Main Streets.

1898

Postum Cereal Company begins manufacturing its second product, Grape Nuts.

Dr. Kellogg founds the Battle Creek Sanitarium Food Company. The factory was on White Street, while the offices were in the Sanitarium. In 1902, the name was changed to the Battle Creek Sanitarium and Health Food Company.

Kellogg starts marketing “Corn Flakes” on a very small scale.

1899

CW Post founds the Battle Creek Box Company to make boxes for his cereal company.

1900

Post begins building the Post Building on Main (Michigan) and McCamly.

Sanitus Nut Food Company completely destroyed by fire.

City Council organizes Battle Creek Police Department.

Battle Creek Pure Food Company founded.

Joseph Cox founds the Morning Enquirer.

Grand Opening of the Post Building, the city’s “first skyscraper,” on the southeast corner of Main and McCamly. The Athelstan Club occupied social rooms on the fifth and sixth floors.

Nine-hole golf course created on Merritt’s Commons.

Keyes-Davis Company, which manufactured metal products, founded.

Battle Creek Electricians local 445 established.

1901

Battle Creek Carpenters union founded.

CW Post opens Post Tavern, a six-story hotel with 135 rooms, on the southwest corner of Main and McCamly.

February: Nichols Memorial Hospital on Main and Tompkins dedicated.

Proliferation of cereal companies including the Malted Food Company, the American Pure Food Company, the Battle Creek Flaked Food Company, the Hygienic Food Company, the Battle Creek Health Beverage Company, the Malt-Too Food Company, and the Battle Creek Breakfast Food Company founded, as were many others, whose names changed rapidly due to takeovers.

1903

May 31: The new Battle Creek Sanitarium dedicated.

1905

Willard Library opens to the public.

WS Butterfield leases the Hamblin Opera House. In September, he reopened it as the Bijou Theater.

Area that now comprises Washington Heights divided into plots for sale.

1906

Kellogg Co. founded.

Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church built on 364-366 West Van Buren.

1907

Michigan Carton Co. founded.

Joseph Cox sells the Morning Enquirer to CW Post.

Queen Theater opens.

1908

Work completed on the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company on Porter Street.

First United Methodist Church moved across the street from City Hall.

American Federation of Labor Convention passed resolution to send organizers to Battle Creek, where labor was in a “deplorable and terrorized contition."

1909

Battle Creek High School built on Van Buren Street.

John W. Patterson becomes the first black policeman in Battle Creek.

Washington Heights United Methodist Church begins as a Sunday School and a predominantly white church.

WS Butterfield opens a new Bijou on Main Street; the old theater becomes a department store in 1911.

1910

Unsuccessful American Federation of Labor membership drive in Battle Creek.

1911

A.L. Miller founds the Evening News.

Battle Creek’s Fire Department orders its first motorized truck.

The Sager and Godfrey Jewelry Store open on West Main Street. Three years later, Sager sold his portion.

Hamblin Opera House converted into a department store.

1913

Battle Creek’s City Hall built.

Two theaters, the Idle Hour and the Garden, open in Battle Creek.

Governor Woodbridge Ferris signs a new city charter, which provided for a Mayor and four city commissioners.

CW Post builds the ten-story addition onto the Post Tavern; new section located on the corner of Jackson and McCamly.

1914

WK Kellogg establish Ann J. Kellogg School, the “Fresh Air School” in the No. 10 School on West Van Buren Street.

CW Post dies at the age of 59.

Strand Theater opens.

Battle Creek City Hall opened.

1915

The City Bank of Battle Creek builds an eight-story skyscraper on the southwest corner of Michigan and Capital Avenues.

The Daily Moon acquires the Battle Creek Journal from William Thomson to establish the Moon-Journal.

1916

Lawsuit between John Harvey Kellogg and WK Kellogg over use of the Kellogg name. WK wins right to use his name.

1917

US Government decides to use the area six miles west of town to build a military training camp. Contract signed with
Porter Brothers and construction begins in July. Camp Custer covered 10,000 acres.

In June, a tornado rips through Battle Creek.

St. Philip High School built.

1918

Battle Creek Federation of Musicians established to represent the members of large orchestras that performed at the Bijou and Post Theaters.

Regent Theater opens in downtown Battle Creek.

September 1 is the first wartime "gasless Sunday" in Battle Creek as part of "voluntary" rationing program, according to which people could not drive automobiles on Sundays.

The Morning Enquirer and the Evening News combined by LA Miller to form the Enquirer and News.

Battle Creek celebrates the end of the World War I with a parade and a bonfire.

Influenza epidemic sweeping the nation kills 663 men at Camp Custer.

Washington Heights incorporated into Battle Creek.

1919

The Old Jefferson House on South Jefferson, known as the Alhambra Hotel, reopens as exclusive Negro Hotel to accommodate visitors who would otherwise have difficulty securing accommodation.

The road to Goguac Lake paved and named Lake Road; road is now Capital Avenue.

1920

Dardanella Art Club organized by prominent women in black community to foster cultural enrichment and ultimately serve the poor.

WK Kellogg changed the name of his company to the Kellogg Toasted Corn Flake Company. Dr. Kellogg changed the
name of the Sanitas Food Company to the Kellogg Food Company.

Tornado kills three people in Battle Creek.

1921

Albert Miller purchases property from Marjorie Post on McCamly Street and moves the Enquirer and News there.

1922

A fire completely destroys the Seventh-Day Adventist Dime Tabernacle

November: Leila Young Post Montgomery donates the land that is today the Leila Arboretum.

1923

Battle Creek College founded.

Quaker Oats in Battle Creek sold to Kelloggs.

The Training School for Nurses, the School of Home Economics, and the School of Physical Education united and
form the new Battle Creek College, with Dr. Kellogg as the president.

1924

Irving Park completed.

Coca Cola Company builds a plant in Battle Creek.

The City Chamber of Commerce leases the Garret Wells farm for an airport.

The Veterans Administration Hospital opens in Camp Custer.

Battle Creek's first radio broadcast from WJBM.

Battle Creek chapter of the NAACP organized.

1925

Miss Clare Briggs the becomes the first woman elected to the City Commission.

WK Kellogg changed the name of his company to the Kellogg Company, often just called Kelloggs.

JC Penny’s builds a store in Battle Creek.

1926

Battle Creek annexes Washington Heights area.

Battle Creek’s first radio station, WKBP (We Keep Breakfast Popular) started.

Battle Creek chapter of Elks formed.

1927

Flood control plans developed by outside consultants.

Lelia Young Post Montgomery Hospital opens.

Ralston Purina Company buys Armour Grain Company’s Maple Flake Mills and starts manufacturing flaked cereal.

1928

Local 34 of Teamsters started when John W. Ford organized Battle Creek’s milk truck drivers.

St. Philip's Catholic Church on the corner of Jefferson and Van Buren destroyed by fire.

The Presbyterian Church builds its present building on Capital Avenue.

Kelloggs introduces Rice Krispies.

Fire in oven room of the Ralston Purina Company.

Sears, Roebuck & Co. open a retail store on Michigan Avenue.

Dr. Charles Walker moves to Battle Creek; he becomes first black physician to practice in Battle Creek.

Main Street renamed Michigan Avenue.

1929

The Postum Cereal Company becomes a division of the General Foods Corporation; headquarters moved to New York.

The Merchants Bank merged with the Old National Bank, becoming the Old Merchants National Bank and Trust
Company. The bank erected the first skyscraper in Battle Creek by adding 15 more stories to the former Old National Bank on Michigan Avenue.

Montgomery Ward & Co. opens a retail store on Michigan Avenue.

Fire destroys St. Philip’s Catholic Church.

1930s

Unions begin to flourish in Battle Creek.

Cornerstone for the new St. Philip's Catholic Church laid on corner of West Van Buren and Northeast Capital Avenue.

JC Jenson founds Battle Creek Foundry Company.

The Enquirer and News moves from McCamly Street location to a larger plant on State Street.

WK Kellogg Hotel opens on the northwest corner of Washington and Van Buren.

1931

Centennial celebrations in Battle Creek featuring a parade with a float designated “Colored Citizens of Battle Creek."

Ann J. Kellogg School built.

1932

Berean Seventh Day Adventist Church organized by Elder S.E. Wright.

Work begins on WK Kellogg Auditorium.

Battle Creek Coach Company begins operation, ending use of streetcars in the city.

1933

Federal Government selects Camp Custer as the site for the district headquarters of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). 80 men in CCC begin work at Camp Custer, and within months, 17,000 unemployed men are stationed at Camp Custer.

Prohibition ends, and on the first night, drinkers cleaned out all of the bars in the city.

1934

25 workers at Eton’s Corp. Valve Division sign up with the American Federation of Labor, but management discovers the organizing and a meeting scheduled to take place in Veterans’ Hall was called off. The Union moves forward, however, calling itself the Red Apple Club.

JP Cummings starts the R. Cummings & Co. Distillery. In 1937, the company goes bankrupt.

1935

Unions formed in four Battle Creek plants – Kellogg Co., Union Steam Pump Co., Ralston Purina Co., and Michigan
Carton Co.

1936

Mr. And Mrs. Harold Swanson start Swanson’s Cookie Company. Cookies marketed under the name “Archway."

Weston Biscuit Co. founded in Battle Creek.

The Congress of Industrial Organizations(CIO) begins organizing in Battle Creek. Their organizer, Harry Spenser, holds meetings in the back room of Ed Grudzinski’s Saloon at SW Capital Avenue. This gives birth to local 196 at Eaton, where one-third of the employees join within one year. By 1937, 90% of Eaton’s employees are members of the CIO.

1937

National Biscuit Co., “Nabisco," begins operating plants in Battle Creek (1937-1968).

Ralston Purina workers secure first labor contract.

1938

Eaton workers secure their first labor contract.

Battle Creek College closes due to lack of funding.

Community Hospital opens.

The City National Bank of Battle Creek becomes the First National Bank of Battle Creek.

1940s

Decade witnesses significant movement of middl- and upper-class whites into the suburbs, generating concerns among city officials about a diminished tax base.

Moon-Journal taken over the by Enquirer and News.

Camp Custer renamed Fort Custer.

1941

Work begins on project to enlarge Fort Custer.

Kellogg Co. agrees to a closed shop.

The Duplex Printing Press Company begins producing anti-tank gun carriages.

More than 500 local men drafted; half of factory workers in Battle Creek employed in defense work.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church established on 24th Street.

Lakeview Baptist Church built on 20th Street.

WK Kellogg dies.

Michigan Theater opens on Michigan Avenue.

Joe Louis fights a pair of two-round exhibition bouts at Fort Custer.

1942

Kelloggs comes out with Raisin Bran.

Post Employees vote 673-443 to be represented by local 374 of the United Cereal, Bakery and Food Workers, a division of the CIO.


Army buys main building of Sanitarium and renames it Percy Jones Hospital; Sanitarium moves to Fieldstone Building.

1943

Percy Jones Hospital opens its doors.

Dr. John H. Kellogg dies at the age of 91.

1945

Elm Street Hospital opens.

1947

Civic Arts Center formed.

The Milner Hotel becomes the new Williams House.

March 25 - April 6: Heavy Snowfall creates flood conditions; over 1,500 families flee or take shelter in the second-floor quarters of their homes.

April 7: City Elections take place.

April 9: Water draining off the flood areas of the city and reconstruction and the safeguarding of public health begins.

April 10: William B. Bailey becomes mayor. Immediately, Mayor Bailey appoints a flood disaster committee with himself as chairman.

April 12: Clean-up crews out in all recently flooded areas; flood waters receding and flooded neighborhoods drying out.

May 5: Committee appointed by Mayor Bailey to asses flood damage.

Summer: City cleaned out riverbeds to increase total volume of water that could move through each channel.

June: With a view towards long-term flood prevention, Mayor Bailey establishes a seven-person Flood Control
Committee to study all the floods that had taken place in the city of Battle Creek since 1900 (view resulting report here).

October: William F. Husted, city fireman and meteorologist, assigned full time by the city to erect gauges on both the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Rivers, upstream and in the city.

US Army gives the airport/training base associated with Fort Custer to the City of Battle Creek.

1948

“An early warning system was installed, including observation posts and weather stations upstream at Pennfield, Charlotte and Bellevue, monitored at the headquarters at the No. 3 fire house on Cliff Street.”

Construction begins on the Kalamazoo Flood Control Program; the first walls and dikes are built.

Auto Theater Drive-In opens.

Clinton “Bill” Knapp opens his first Bill Knapp’s restaurant in downtown Battle Creek.

The Battle Creek Seventh-Day Adventist Academy opens.

1949

Homer Brewing Company shuts down.

Cello-Foil Products Inc. established (packaging and printing).

Comprehensive City Plan developed by urban planning firm of Harland Bartholomew & Associates. The project promotes the concentration of people within the city limits in order to maximize the cost-efficiency of public services. The Plan calls for the movement of lower income residents into centrally located but declining areas.

December: The Army Corps of Engineers presenst to the Water Resources Commission a preliminary plan calling for a $5,817,000 flood control project. Solution adopted involves widening and deepening the river channels. City Commission identifies the elimination of slums as within the public interest.

Second Baptist Church formed.

1950

Mt. Zion A.M.E organized and located on the southeast corner of Champion and Kendall Streets.

1951

Senator Joseph McCarthy speaks to 1,200 people at the WK Kellogg Auditorium.

Temple of Beth El built.

1952

The Kellogg Airfield constructs a runway capable of accommodating a jumbo jet.

Philip Gilbert buys LaSalle Hotel and renames it the Gilbert Hotel.

1953

Battle Creek’s Planning Commission approves “The Master Plan."

After Korean War, the US Government begins leasing some of Fort Custer’s land for grazing cattle, and much of the Fort falls into disuse.

1954

US Government buys Percy Jones Hospital and renames it the Battle Creek Federal Center.

Construction begins on the new Sears, Roebuck & Co. on Capital Avenue.

Construction begins on the new Battle Creek Chamber of Commerce on West Van Buren Street.

Omnibus Flood Control, Rivers and Harbors Act, passed by Congress in 1954, makes it possible for City to divert the Kalamazoo River and deepen the Battle Creek River with a federal appropriation. Local funding used for land acquisition and new bridges and storm sewers. The City also begins the Jewell Street redevelopment project and oversees slum clearance. In order to reshape the flats, South Washington Avenue is rerouted, while Ravine, Liberty, Jewell, Court and Kirby streets are vacated.

1955

Kellogg Foundation gives Battle Creek a gift of $400,000 to begin municipal improvements.

Coterian Club established by a group of 12 girls interested in fostering better social activities in Battle Creek. The Coterian Club “was the first in Battle Creek to take out a life membership in the NAACP."

Kellogg comes out with Special K cereal.

West Point Drive-In Theater opens in Urbandale.

Regent Theater closes.

1956

Kellog Company marks its 50th anniversary by setting up a breakfast table running the length of Michigan Avenue.

Battle Creek Community College opens.

A building owned by the Public Schools, one that was originally a fire station, is renovated and modernized to supply three classrooms that formed the basis of KCC.

Mayor Wagner travels to Washington, DC to meet with the Flood Control Sub-Committee of the House Appropriations Committee in order to discuss Battle Creek’s plans to finance its urban development program; Congress approves city’s plan.

1957

Lakeview General Hospital dedicated.

1958

City build five new bridges across the Kalamazoo River Channel.

Harper Creek High School built.

Westlake Presyterian Church organized.

Enquirer and News announces first George Awards for community service.

1959

Battle Creek Community College changes its name to Kellogg Community College.

The Ralston Purina Company begins to manufacture Purina Dog Chow in the Battle Creek plant.

1960

Old part of the Post Tavern and the bridge torn down.

Martin Luther King speaks to a packed house at the First Methodist Church.

The Rex Theater closes.

January-March: NAACP membership drive in Battle Creek.

The Board of the Battle Creek Chapter of NAACP votes overwhelmingly against supporting small groups of NAACP members picketing local Woolworth and Kresge stores. The State President of the NAACP awards merit certificates at the State Conference to the 16 people who picketed in opposition to the majority vote of the Battle Creek branch, leading board members in Battle Creek NAACP to feel that their leadership positions were untenable, insofar as they lacked the State President’s support. Twenty-two board members of the Battle Creek chapter of the NAACP resign in protest of the decision of the State President to support a strike of Woolworth and Kresge.

1961

Concrete-lined Kalamazoo River Channel dedicated.

Workers at Clarks walk off their jobs and stay on strike for 166 days.

1962

Both Pennfield and Lakeview High Schools built.

The Second Baptist Church finishes its building on North Washington Avenue.

1963

Clark Valentine becomes first black male ever elected to city commission.

Pennfield Presbyterian Church completed.

Richard Eddinger and Mark Steinbrunner open the Lakewood Inn restaurant on the north side of Goguac Lake.

Herman McGee founds Battle Creek chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

Two roller rinks built in Battle Creek. One rink built on Jefferson Street and called the Eclipse. The other rink built on Jackson
Street and called Cady’s.

1964

The United Arts Council formed through merger of the Civic Arts Center, Civic Theater, and the Symphony Orchestra.

Kellogg Company introduces Pop-tarts.

Herman McGee, chairman of the local branch of CORE, marches for two hours before the Post Tavern Motor Inn to protest Republican August E. Johansen, who was in town for a Lincoln Day dinner.

1965

The Miller Gymnasium built with grants form the Miller Foundation and Kellogg Foundation.

1966

President Lyndon B. Johnson speaks in Battle Creek to celebrate the centennial of the Sanitarium.

At the urging of Evelyn Golden, a Battle Creek chapter of the Urban League is formed.

1967

Daniel Patton Jr. becomes the first African-American school principal in Battle Creek.

Battle Creek chapter of CORE joins nationwide boycott to protest unseating of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell (D, NY). CORE chapter asks members not to work, shop, or send children to school on 2/13/67.

Construction begins on the Post Office on McCamly Street.

Blizzard hits Battle Creek.

Battle Creek voters approve a city income tax.

1968

Calhoun County Business and Professional Association founded as a member of the National Black Business Association.

1969

The city purchases 1,800 acres of Fort Custer from the Federal Government for industrial development.

Kimball House Museum opens its doors.

Charles Cribbs becomes the first African-American member of the Battle Creek Board of Education.

Mattye Leola Vest becomes the first African-American woman to serve as a principal in a Battle Creek school.

1970

St. Elias Eastern Orthodox Church completed.

The rest of thePost Motor Inn torn down.

Calhoun Area Vocational Center completed.

1971

National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club forms a Battle Creek chapter.

WUHQ-TV, Channel 41, goes on-air to become the first permanent television station in Battle Creek.

1972

Most of groundwork completed for Fort Custer Industrial Park.

Columbia Theaters on Columbia Avenue opens.

1973

Y Center on Capital Avenue completed.

Construction begins on the new Michigan Mall.

1974

Michigan Theater closes.

Battle Creek Foundation established.

Michigan Carton Company sold to St. Regis Paper Co.

1975

Grand Opening of the new Michigan Mall.

Pet food production discontinued in Battle Creek.

1977

Louis Martin becomes the first black principal of Battle Creek Central High School.

Archway Cookies opens its new headquarters in Fort Custer.

1978

The Williams House and the Gilbert Hotel close.

Ground broken on site of old Post Tavern for the new, ten-story American Bank Building.

1979

Don Sherrod becomes Battle Creek’s first African-American mayor.

Ground broken for Stouffers Hotel and McCamly Square.

1980

Lakewood Inn bought and renamed Prince’s on the Lake, which later becomes Gabreals.

1981

Battle Creek Sanitarium becomes the Seventh-Day Adventist Hospital.

Stouffers Hotel opens for business.

1982

Fort Custer Recreation Area opens.

Construction begins on Lakeview Square Mall.

1983

Battle Creek Township officially becomes part of Battle Creek. Battle Creek becomes the third largest city in Michigan.

Lakeview Square Mall opens.

Work begins on the new Kellogg Company World Headquarters building in downtown Battle Creek.

Battle Creek Investment Growth Corporation allows prospective minority business owners to borrow one half of start up costs to develop in the downtown area.

1984

Maude Bristol-Perry becomes Battle Creek’s first African-American woman mayor.

Black American Cultural Council (BACC) of Battle Creek discusses plans to “make a permanent record of spoken narratives out of the black community."

Downtown revitalization begins with the destruction of many old buildings, including the Williams House, the Michigan
Theater, the Bijou Theater, the Commercial Building, the Gilbert Hotel, and, in 1985, the Post Building.

The Lakeview General Hospital consolidates with Leila Hospital.

1986

Work begins on the K-Mart Plaza.

New Kellogg Headquarters opens downtown, between Jackson, Hamblin, and Washington Streets.

1987

The C.A.A. Franklin Neighborhood Center receives a $500 grant by the Battle Creek Optimist Club to assist its summer Neighborhood Environmental Workers (N.E.W.) project to cut grass, remove bottles, and do yard work for the elderly and disabled. Eight youths and a supervisorare hired through the Michigan Youth Corps Program.


Black Women on the Move, Inc. formed as a “networking vehicle among minority women in the Battle Creek area."