CEDAR FALLS — For a full century, scores of beloved pets and their owners have passed through the doors at 315 State St. in Cedar Falls.
Though the business has changed names over the years, the building and the still-growing veterinary practice are a testament to 100 years of compassionate doctors and staff who’ve brought healing, kindness and peace to people and their pets.
Taylor Veterinary Hospital is Iowa’s oldest continuously operating small animal hospital, and one of just 18 such clinics across the country to achieve the 100-year mark, according to the American Veterinary Medical History Society.
The business will celebrate its 100th birthday with an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 10.
“The history is amazing. Our plan is to stay here another 100 years,” said Dr. Chad Smith, who now owns the practice.
The building was built in 1875 and originally housed a printing company. In 1917, Dr. Lafayette Foster Bacon established a small animal hospital there, according to The Gentle Doctor, a publication of the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Bacon renovated the facility to become his home and veterinary clinic. The family’s living room doubled as a waiting room, and a kennel building was moved on the lot and set on concrete blocks.
In 1943, Bacon sold the practice to Dr. Lloyd Boxwell, who made some renovations to the space. A basement was dug under the kennel building, and an office, exam room and surgery space were added. Additionally, the story goes, Boxwell wasn’t one to walk outside, so he built two narrow, low tunnels — one that led from the garage to the basement and another that connected the basement to the house.
“The old tunnel from the basement to the garage is still standing,” Smith said.
The other tunnel was destroyed during an early ’90s renovation by the hospital’s namesake, Dr. Jim Taylor, who purchased the practice from Boxwell in 1981. Taylor built an addition that required the removal of the Bacon and Boxwell residence, according to The Gentle Doctor. The home was torn down to make way for a parking lot. A two-story addition to the original building included a large reception area and four new exam rooms. The now 6,000-square-foot practice includes use of space both old and new.
An isolation area and separate kennel space are housed in the original basement, and the surgery, x-ray and treatment areas are all part of the initial 1875 structure.
“This building survived a fire at some point,” Smith said, noting a project to remove an obsolete x-ray darkroom revealed some charred wood.
A model of the original building, commissioned by Taylor’s wife, is housed at the Ice House Museum. It will be on display at the hospital during the open house.
Smith, who came on board in 2002, purchased the business from Taylor in 2014. Dr. Wendi Goetsch joined the practice in August that year. Taylor Veterinary Hospital now serves about 1,700 multiple-pet households in the Cedar Valley and continues to grow as downtown Cedar Falls remains a hotbed of development.
“It’s nice to be in an area that’s growing so quickly,” Smith said.
The clinic has even picked up a few new clients who reside in the newly built River Place building across the street.
Smith, a graduate of ISU College of Veterinary Medicine, sees room for further growth at the clinic.
“Our goal would be to add more staff and doctors,” he said. “We have a big enough building that we can, even growing, rearrange and still stay here.”
Around 200-300 people are expected to attend the open house celebration. There will be activities for kids, including balloon animals, and staff will give behind-the-scenes tours of the hospital.