Who came before HealthPartners in Anoka?

The new 60,000 sqare-foot HealthPartners Riverway Clinic will soon be under construction on the former Castle Field site. It will be a state of the art facility.

Bob Kirchner
Bob Kirchner

But who came before HealthPartners?

Their earliest Anoka ancestors were doctors Giddings, Aldrich, Kline and Gates.

The first doctor to locate in Anoka was Dr. A. W. Giddings who set up his office near Main/Ferry streets in 1854. He practiced in Anoka for over 50 years.

The husband and wife doctor team of Alanson and Flora Aldrich followed in 1883 and for 30 years practiced from their Colonial Hall home at 1900 Third Ave., now an antique shop.

Dr. James F. Kline arrived in 1892, opened the Kline Sanitarium in 1902 at 1500 S. Ferry St., and practiced for 40 years. This is now Pierce Apartments.

In 1918 Dr. C. E. Gates settled in to operate the Gates Hospital at 1841 S. Ferry St. for 12 years from 1922 until the mid 1930s. An apartment building stands here today.

Other forefathers stand out.

Dr. Raymond J. Spurzem hung out his shingle in downtown Anoka in 1923 and practiced for 54 years.

Dr. Bevan W. Bunker opened for business in 1937 with downtown offices and practiced for over 40 years.

But two other doctors must be credited with establishing the first modern medical clinics in the city.

The first was Dr. Frank E. Mork.

Dr. Mork came to Anoka in 1931 after completing medical training at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. His office was on the upper floor of the Witte Building at 1927 Second Ave. near the Second Avenue/Main Street corner.

Two nephews joined him in the practice – Dr. A. Harold Mork in 1941 and Dr. Joseph Twidwell in 1949.

In 1950 Dr. Frank Mork constructed the first modern medical clinic in Anoka at 1833 Second Ave. S.  the same year Castle Field was opened.

Originally it was two stories with 5,264 square feet. The main entrance on Second Avenue led to upper floor doctors offices and examining rooms. The lower level opened to the west side parking lot and housed an oculist, dentist, storage space and utility rooms.

In 1965 the clinic was doubled in size.

In 1988, a sister clinic was constructed in Elk River.

The Anoka clinic was remodeled again in 1999 and now contains 30,000 square feet.

By 2000 Mork Clinic had grown to 26 doctors and 215 other employees.

The second doctor to build a modern clinic in Anoka was Dr. Neil Macheledt.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota Medical School, Dr. Macheledt and his wife, Dr. Wendla Leinonen, practiced in Wadena for three years.

In 1957 they moved to a growing Anoka and opened their medical office on the second floor at 228 E. Main St., above what was then the S & L Department Store, now Amish Corner.

Then, in 1960, Dr. Macheledt constructed a new 5,000 square-foot clinic at 850 E. Main St., aptly named East Main Clinic.

In 1981 a sister facility, known as Northway Clinic, was established on Highway 65 in Blaine.

Over the years East Main Clinic expanded to 10,000 square feet and by 1985 accommodated 12 doctors and staff.

In 1985 partner Dr. Dayton Burkholder, split off to establish Holokleria, an independent clinic located just northeast of Mercy Hospital. Later it merged with East Main Clinic.

But times were changing and independent clinics faced serious financial challenges.

In 1994 Mork Clinic sold its two buildings to HealthPartners but continued to operate its medical business as a tenant.

In 1997 East Main Clinic merged with Mork and later sold its facilities.

The following year HealthPartners built the Andover branch clinic which Mork operated.

In 2000 HealthPartners acquired the Mork Clinic business and re-branded it RiverWay.

So the parents of HealthPartners Riverway are Mork and East Main Clinics. Drs. Mork and Macheledt delivered them years ago and they each practiced in Anoka for over 40 years.

Soon the footings will be set for the new HealthPartners Clinic on the old ball field. Delivery of this next generation medical facility is expected in June 2013.

But the foundations of medical practice in Anoka were laid long ago by those who came before.

Bob Kirchner is a local historian, seminary student and city of Anoka’s part-time community development director.

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