What do these historical landmarks in Chiropractic have in common, Clearview Sanitarium, Spears Hospital, Little-Bit-O-Heaven, The Ryan Building? They are all gone; yep, lost to wrecking crews and bulldozers years ago. Sad.
But, we have an opportunity to save one of the last significant Chiropractic landmarks still standing – The Gonstead Clinic in Mount Horeb, WI. Urgent action is needed because it is deteriorating and was nearly sold to become a library or nursing home just recently.
A non-profit organization has been formed called The C.S. Gonstead Foundation and is currently the owner and operator. Several of us have stepped forward to volunteer as a steering committee with the intent to restore and preserve what’s left of the property. Just 3 years ago Gonstead’s adjacent hotel, The Karakahl Inn, was sold, demolished and replaced with a Walgreen’s pharmacy. Years before that Gonstead’s adjacent airport was sold and subdivided for a neighborhood.
Why is the Gonstead Clinic a significant Chiropractic landmark worth saving?
#1 The impressive size of it. Gonstead built this mammoth structure of 36,000 sqft to accommodate his unparalleled patient load coming from not just all 50 states but several foreign countries.
#2 The extraordinary architecture. Gonstead certainly was a progressive thinker. One look at the building’s profile reveals unique design, especially for its time of construction in 1964. Many elements of Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence are present. The materials used are of high quality including exotic stone work and solid Walnut paneling throughout. Enter the massive cathedral like waiting room and you’ll know the meaning of the term “jaw dropping”.
#3 The obscure location. The clinic’s hilltop perch makes a provocative statement, but the City of Mount Horeb (population 1200 then/ 4500 now) makes one ask “How could this success happen here”?
#4 The reputation. Considering that Dr Gonstead’s patient drawing area was essentially “the world”, and that his technique, the Gonstead Method, is recognized and respected universally as a “gold standard” in the Chiropractic profession, it’s difficult to argue against the claim that this was the “Mayo Clinic” equivalent in Chiropractic. The name Gonstead is world-renowned amongst DCs even now, 38 years after his death.
#5 The mystery. How did he do that? The question arises endlessly, not only upon visiting the clinic, but also when considering that his nearby home was equally impressive, that his patients often sought his help for problems well beyond just musculo-skeletal pain, that he commonly worked 12-16 hour days, 6 days a week for 50 plus years, and that he is described by co-workers, friends, and patients as a simple and humble man. All this is well documented.
#6 The era. Consider that his years of practice were a time of no insurance coverage, and some of the darkest days in Chiropractic history as the AMA was bearing down full bore with their well organized campaign to “discredit and ultimately eliminate” the chiropractic profession. What Dr Gonstead’s reaction was to the difficult and hostile environment is another mystery – he thrived when others struggled.
So myself and the other volunteers involved in repairing and preserving this landmark feel strongly that it must continue to stand not only as an unmatched piece of Chiropractic history but also as a shining example of ultra-success all Chiropractors can aspire to. The mystery of it all becomes motivational as Chiropractors contemplate and then conclude what the secret to his success really was – exceptional patient care.
Please join us in our efforts. A fundraising campaign is currently under way called Gonstead Guardians. More details including pictures and donation opportunities can be found at www.gofundme.com/gonsteadguardians.
And make it your goal to visit the famous clinic on the hill in Mount Horeb, WI. The staff would be happy to arrange a tour for you.
Dr Tom Potisk, president of The CS Gonstead Foundation