In the late 1860s, Seventh-day Adventists began to move to Oregon. Like many Americans, they held strong convictions about health. In Michigan, the Battle Creek Sanitarium had been established by the church and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Many hoped a similar sanitarium could be built in the west.
Lewis Belknap, MD, a student of Dr. Kellogg's in Battle Creek, had such a dream. In the fall of 1893, Dr. Belknap arrived in Portland. He was penniless, having been robbed of all his possessions while waiting on a dock in San Francisco. But he held tight to his dream. A local family loaned him the first month's rent for a small eight-room house in which to start a six-patient practice.
Within a couple years, the fledgling sanitarium outgrew the small quarters. By 1895, Portland Sanitarium had relocated to the Reed Mansion. Belknap rented the mansion from the Simeon Reed family, whose estate founded Reed College. The large ornate house provided room for 20 patients, along with a surgical ward, office, kitchen and dining room.
In 1896, Dr. Belknap moved to San Jose, California to start another sanitarium there. With this departure, the Seventh-day Adventist Church took full charge of the sanitarium. By 1897, a two-year nurses' training program and a health food company were added.
By 1922, the hospital was named Portland Adventist Sanitarium and moved into a modern, new building at 60th and Belmont on Mt. Tabor. There were continued expansions at this site. In 1964, the board voted to change the name to Portland Adventist Hospital.
As the hospital continued to grow, there was once again the need for a new facility. This time the move was to the current site, on Market Street just east of I-205. The new hospital was completed in 1977 (a few years before I-205 was finished) and the name was then changed to Portland Adventist Medical Center. It was the first hospital in Portland to have all private rooms.
Growth has continued. In Portland, the current Adventist Medical Center is the centerpiece of a system including a modern medical center and more than 30 medical clinics. Although many things have changed through a century of providing health care to our community, our historical commitment to our mission of caring for the whole person remains firm.