Follow the link to read about the Porter Veterinarian Dynasty!
Dr. Fitch’s Pet-Animal Hospital was located at 5700 West Lake Street, which was an old house with the capacity of 60 animals. His house was immediately adjacent to the hospital. In 1947 he requested a permit to make his house a duplex. The address is now an apartment building next to the Roller Rink.
Dr. Ernest Lyman Fitch, DVM, graduated from Iowa State College in 1916, and served as a veterinarian during World War I. He started his practice in Iowa in 1923, and came to St. Louis Park in about 1930 (although at the time of the 1930 census on April 18 the family lived in Audubon, Iowa).
From 1930-1940, Fitch served as village dogcatcher. In his ad in the professional pages of the 1939 directory, he offered boarding, bathing, and clipping. In 1942 he was a member of the Minnesota State Veterinary Society, and as such predicted that the horse would make a comeback. There is an article about Dr. Fitch in the July 13, 1961 issue of the Dispatch.
Dr. Fitch was born on February 23, 1891, in Iowa.
He married his first wife Louise on September 6, 1916. Their children were:
- Velman, born in about 1918. Velman graduated from St. Louis Park high School in 1935. He was lost at sea on a Chinese junk sailed by Richard Haliburton in 1939.
- Robert, born in about 1920.
- Ernest, Jr., born in about 1922.
Louise died in about 1935.
On April 15, 1936, Ernest married Edna J. Vrooman in Northwood, Iowa.
The 1940 Census names Ernest’s wife as Bertha, and states that they had both lived in the same house in 1935. Bertha H. Larson (1899-1974) had married Verner Gerhard Lindahl on November 17, 1927, and they had a daughter LuVerne in 1930. Lindahl, who was a grocer, possibly at the Brookside Market next to Brookside Drug Store, died in 1931.
Dr. Fitch retired in 1962 and moved to Arizona in 1965, where he died on August 22, 1979.
Also see Something in the Water.
DR. B. ROBERT LEWIS
Dr. B. Robert Lewis took over Fitch’s practice in July 1962 and occupied Fitch’s old building. That building was demolished in 1968 and Lewis opened the Oak Knoll Animal Hospital (see below) at 7010 Highway 7, where he practiced until his untimely death in 1979.
OAK KNOLL ANIMAL HOSPITAL
Dr. B. Robert Lewis opened the Oak Knoll Animal Hospital in a new building at 7010 Highway 7 on April 26, 1968. The Minneapolis Spokesman gave this very detailed description of the new facility, whose opening drew 500 well-wishers:
The new pet hospital is a handsome two level 36 x 60 foot structure of rustic brick. In one room there is an x-ray table and examination facilities.
Walls of ceramic tile are throughout the building and floors of the building are specially treated. Examination rooms are on each side of the hospital pharmacy where medicines are prepared.
The cages which the pet patients occupy are all stainless steel and the hospital rooms in which the accommodations are located are regularly air purified and air conditioned for comfort of the hospital “guests.”
The hospital area has three separate units so that there is no overcrowding. Door frames are of steel which deadens the sounds which are characteristic of animal hospitals. Stairway steps are all of corri-tile, insuring good sanitation.
On the lower floor individual exercise rooms are heated and have air conditioning. There is a grooming room where the pets may be bathed and groomed.
An isolation ward is available for pets whose condition requires that they be alone, while under treatment by Dr. Lewis and his staff.
The Minnetonka Animal Clinic [17516 Minnetonka Blvd.] will be continued as usual in addition to Oak Knoll by Dr. Lewis… A staff of four persons assist Dr. Lewis in his growing pet hospitals.
The facility continued after Dr. Lewis’s untimely death in 1979.
In about 1985 it moved to 7916 Minnetonka Blvd. where it was listed as the Oak Knoll-Texa Tonka Animal Hospital.
In about 1996 it moved to 7202 Minnetonka Blvd.
In 2014 it moved to 6315-17 Minnetonka Blvd., taking over the entire building.