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Kalamazoo Infant Welfare Station No.1

“Keep the well babies well”

As you pass the intersection of Gull Road and East North Street today, you’ll likely notice a nicely groomed green space known as Harrison Park. A little over a century ago, that same triangle of land was occupied by a small but important piece of Kalamazoo’s wellbeing, the Kalamazoo Infant Welfare Station No.1.

Infant Welfare Station No.1, southwest corner of Gull and North streets, c.1936. Kalamazoo Public Library photo file P-891.

Kalamazoo Child Welfare League

By 1913 there was concern in the Kalamazoo community over the growing problem of infant mortality. That’s when the Kalamazoo Child Welfare League was formed for the “betterment of the welfare of our children, our homes, our city and the conservation of our future citizens” (Gazette). Some one hundred fifty members came together each month to discuss the importance of children’s food, clothing, behavior, and other such challenges of childrearing. One of the group’s first major projects was to establish Kalamazoo’s first permanent Infant Welfare Station.

The Kalamazoo Infant Welfare Station No.1 was designed to provide educational resources for new and economically challenged parents and their families, especially during the strenuous times of war, through well baby visits. It was modeled after a similar program in Chicago with the chief goal of reducing the infant death rate in Kalamazoo. “Keep the well babies well” was their motto.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Kalamazoo, MI. Vol. 1, 1932. Library of Congress. Kalamazoo Public Library.

The station was located at the intersection of Gull Road and East North Street. The lot at the time was provided lease-free by the Michigan Railway Company, which made it unique among similar such stations in other cities by allowing it to function on a small budget. Scores of local companies and individuals donated time and materials to make the station a reality.

The building itself was small, a single room with a stucco exterior designed by Kalamazoo architect Rockwell A. LeRoy – a room “so comfortable and cozy that mothers [would] love to bring their babies there” (Gazette). Construction began in June 1916, and the station opened for service on August 29.

Eventually, at least three other such stations were opened elsewhere around the city. Infant Welfare Station No. 2 opened temporarily in a room at the Lake Street School in June 1917, then moved to a storefront at the corner of Lake and Portage streets when school opened in the fall. Susanne Bauer was the nurse in charge there. By the mid-1920s, the program had proven so successful that there were four Infant Welfare Stations in operation by then on North Westnedge, Gull Road, 3rd Street, and South Burdick.

Infant Welfare Station No.1, southwest corner of Gull and North streets, c.1936. Kalamazoo Public Library photo file P-893.

“Keep the well babies well”

Eva Louise Doniat. (Gazette-Telegraph)

The station was not designed to provide medical care. Instead, parents received instruction on how to feed, clothe, bathe, and otherwise care for their infant children. The first nurse to oversee the station was Eva Louise Doniat, a nurse with considerable experience working with the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.

Two mornings each week, typically Tuesdays and Saturdays, mothers were permitted to bring their infants to the station for examination and a conference with a local doctor. Other days, Doniat would conduct in-home visits to provide hands-on training about proper childcare. “There is nothing I have done that has brought me any more satisfaction than caring for these little ones,” Doniat told a Gazette reporter, “who in the two years I have had supervision over them grow to seem like my own. It is a very lovely work”

During the years that followed, the station served more than 200 families each year. The building also hosted events such as adult education classes, a weekly children’s story hour facilitated by the Kalamazoo Public Library, and it served for many years as a First Ward polling place for Kalamazoo’s city elections.

Playground near Infant Welfare Station No.1, corner of Gull and North streets, c.1936. Kalamazoo Public Library photo file P-892.

The Infant Welfare Station remained under the control of the Child Welfare League through the 1940s. In 1952, ownership was transferred to the City of Kalamazoo and extensive repairs were made, but its use as a clinic ceased soon after. During the 1960s and 1970s, the building was used as a church, then later by the City’s Community Relations Department. The building was demolished in 1979 to make way for the current city park.


Written by Keith Howard, Kalamazoo Public Library staff, September 2022. Revised September 2023.



“Welfare League is organized to aid children of Kazoo”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 25 April 1913, page 4

“Child Welfare League will hold first session of year”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 1 October 1913, page 4

“Welfare League to hold first meeting”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 2 October 1913, page 7

“Child Welfare League great source of good here”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 2 May 1914, page 17

“Society is formed to assure child hygiene”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 29 October 1915, page 1

“Infant Welfare Society to be formed here”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 20 February 1916, page 6

“Infant welfare station assured”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 10 June 1916, page 2

“Nurse to head child welfare station named”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 14 June 1916, page 7

“Infant welfare nurse here Monday”

Kalamazoo Gazette-Telegraph, 1 July 1916, page 5

“Child conferences inaugurate July 18”

Kalamazoo Gazette-Telegraph, 14 July 1916, page 5


Kalamazoo Gazette-Telegraph, 16 July 1916, page 6

“Infant clinic at armory on Friday”

Kalamazoo Gazette-Telegraph, 20 July 1916, page 1

“Rush work on welfare station”

Kalamazoo Gazette-Telegraph, 2 August 1916, page 5

“Conference station to be opened soon”

Kalamazoo Gazette-Telegraph, 7 August 1916, page 10

“Welfare station not yet completed”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 14 August 1916, page 12

“Welfare station nears completion”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 21 August 1916, page 10

“Babe conference station to open”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 25 August 1916, page 3

“Kazoo for first time in its history has Infant Welfare Station”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 27 August 1916, page 14

“Infant conference station is opened”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 29 August 1916, page 6

“Infant Welfare Station popular”

Kalamazoo Gazette-Telegraph, 1 September 1916, page 5

“City hits its infant mortality rate, welfare station is channel of attack”

Kalamazoo Gazette-Telegraph, 29 October 1916, page 7

“Infant Welfare Station means much to Kazoo babies”

Kalamazoo Gazette-Telegraph, 19 November 1916, page 3

“Saturday infant welfare meetings”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 30 December 1916, page 3

“Story hour for welfare kiddies”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 30 January 1917, page 5

“Kazoo Child Welfare League 4 years old”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 29 April 1917, page 12

“New welfare station, plan”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 6 June 1917, page 3

“Conservation of child life is important work of Kalamazoo Child Welfare League”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 22 July 1917, page 7

“Welfare station for south side”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 2 September 1917, page 11

“New Child Welfare Station is opened”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 7 September 1917, page 11

“Child Welfare League will ultimately ask city to take up work of saving youngsters”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 29 May 1918, page 3

“Big year for child welfare organization”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 29 May 1918, page 6

“Examine 205 Kazoo babies”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 30 May 1918, page 3

“Mothers invited to Infant Welfare Station”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 25 June 1919, page 7

“Kazoo babies are made well at Infant Welfare Station”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 13 July 1919, page 21

“City nurses have active month on mercy errands”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 17 June 1923, page 5

“Health of needy children checked at four clinics”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 2 June 1935, page 5

“Addition to building welfare league plan”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 3 April 1940, page 10

“Child Welfare League holds report meeting”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 3 January 1951, page 4

“Open house scheduled at Child Welfare Station”

Kalamazoo Gazette, 2 May 1954, page 29

Local History Room Files

History Room Subject File: Family & Children Services of the Kalamazoo Area

History Room Orange Dot File: Child Welfare

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