The Mayowood Mansion Estate was built in 1911 by one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Charles Mayo (1865-1939). Situated along the Zumbro River, the property encompasses the mansion, the landscaped grounds, and other buildings. Originally, the estate covered 3,000 acres but now is only ten acres in size. The landscape grounds feature gardens that include European and Japanese elements, eight ponds, and sculptures. The Mayo family donated the estate to the Olmstead County Historical Society in 1965. The estate was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
Charles Mayo was born on July 19, 1865 here in Rochester. His father, Albert Mayo, was a skilled physician and operated a medical practice. Charles and his older brother William, were introduced to medicine growing up as they helped their father in his practice. As a young man, Charles earned his medical degree from the Chicago Medical College (which is now part of Northwestern University Medical School) in 1888. In 1905, Charles, William, and five other doctors founded the Mayo Clinic, which is now recognized as one of the best hospitals in the world. They introduced the concept of group practice medicine and this model eventually became the standard around the world.
Charles' specialty was in surgery and he pioneered the field throughout his career. He introduced modern surgical techniques including those used in orthopedic operations and neurosurgery. Charles primarily focused on operations of the head and brain, neck, and throat. He was professor of surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School and the University of Minnesota Graduate School.
Charles built Mayowood in 1911. The large home features 38 rooms, an impressive decorative arts collection, and antique American and European furnishings. Many personal items that belonged to the Mayo family are still in the house as well. In front of the main entrance is a grand staircase. Notable rooms of the house include the library, dining room, music room, study, and a ballroom on the fourth floor. The property features other buildings as well including the tea house, which is a two-level structure in the shape of an octagon.