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Grand Rapids in 1856

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Electric Light Baths

Electric Light Baths

GRHC - March 30th, 2011

In this episode of Glance at the Past, learn about the Electric Light Baths used to make people feel frisky and tan. John H. Kellogg first developed this idea to be used in his sanitarium.    



Electric light baths are among the latest inventions announced a newspaper article in 1893. “The necessary parts are a cabinet that encloses the entire body except the head, and fifty electric lamps of sixteen-candle power or 110 volts. They are arranged about the body in groups, with a separate switch for each group, so they can be directed at a particular part of the body. The light makes the patient frisky, and browns the skin like an ocean bath.”

Although developed by Dr. John H. Kellogg of Battle Creek for use in his sanitarium, the Literary Digest reported in 1900 that the electric bath was the discovery of Mrs. Kellogg. The electric bath produced perspiration and acted much like a sweat bath except the heat was produced by incandescent electric lights instead of hot air or steam.

In January of 1903, an advertisement in the Press announced the arrival of electric baths in Grand Rapids. “Battle Creek sanitarium treatments are given at the Livingston baths located in the Livingston Hotel at 14 South Division. All attendants are trained nurses.”

In 1907 the baths moved to the Ashton Building, across from the Morton Hotel. Shortly after, an experienced new owner took over the entire basement and created a setting we might find familiar today. The Ashton Baths included a Russian steam room, a Turkish room with hot dry air, a small pool, marble showers, and as late as 1922 you could also have an electric light bath.




Full Details

TitleElectric Light Baths
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, radio, electric light baths, John H. Kellogg, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringMarch 30th, 2011

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