Rochester and the Mayo Clinic History Trail
Explore the history of the Mayo Clinic with this trail that includes landmarks related to the history of the Mayo Clinic.
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.
Erected in 1924, this estate was once the residence of Dr. Henry Stanley Plummer (1874-1936), one of the founders of the famed Mayo Clinic. Plummer was a pioneering physician, a highly effective hospital administrator, inventor, and a talented architect. He also designed the house which is a fine example of Tudor Revival architecture, as well as the landscaped grounds around it. Plummer also designed the famous Mayo Clinic building that bears his name: the Plummer Building. The Plummer House is significant for both its architecture and its connection to the history of medicine, and for these reasons, the property was added to the National Register of Historic Place in 1975. The house has 49 rooms, 10 bathrooms, 9 bedrooms, and 5 fireplaces. The eleven-acre property that features formal gardens, a quarry, a bird trail, and a water tower. Today, the Rochester Parks & Recreation Department owns and operates the house which is open to the public for tours in the summer and is available to rent for private events.
Now called the Mayo Foundation House, the Dr. William J. Mayo House is one of the most elegant historic homes in Rochester. It is significant both for its architecture and its association with its namesake, Dr. William J. Mayo (1861-1939), who was a pioneering physician and a one of the founders of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. The three-story, 47-room mansion was erected in 1918 and is an excellent example of Tudor architecture. It features a mostly sandstone facade, a five-story tower, decorative stonework, and a covered main entrance adjoining the base of the tower. The interior features elaborate woodwork, an elevator in the tower, a player organ in the reception hall, a large formal living room, an ornate mahogany staircase, and a large hall on the third floor with a stained glass window. Given its association with William J. Mayo and the Mayo Clinic, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The house is not open to the public and is used for events and meetings.
This historic home is significant for once being the residence of its namesake, Dr. Donald C. Balfour (1882-1963), a talented surgeon who joined the Mayo Clinic in 1907. The house itself was originally built in 1874 and renovated in 1910 by Dr. William Mayo as a wedding gift to Balfour and his wife, Carrie Mayo (William's daughter). The Balfours later expanded the house in 1916 to its current size. Balfour worked at the Mayo Clinic from 1907 to 1947 and served as director of the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research from 1937 to 1947. He also became emeritus professor of surgery at the Mayo Foundation, among other positions and roles he held during his career. The house has been a nursery school called Civic League Day Nursery since 1975.
Constructed in 1937, the former Rochester Public Library is a historic building located in the hear of downtown Rochester. Now part of the Mayo Medical School and called the Mitchell Student Center, it is the best example of Jacobethan public architecture in the city. It is also significant for its association with the Public Works Association (PWA), the federal agency that built it (the PWA was one of the "New Deal" programs the federal government created to help boost the economy during the Great Depression). The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
A National Historic Landmark, the Plummer Building is arguably the most iconic building in Rochester. It is significant for two main reasons: its architecture and its association with the Mayo Clinic, one of the best hospitals in the world. It was in the Plummer Building that private, group practice of medicine was started, a model that hospitals other around the world adopted. Built in 1928 and fifteen stories high, the building is named after Dr. Henry S. Plummer, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic. He also helped design the building. In terms of architecture, the Plummer Building an excellent example of the Art Deco style. However, more important than its appearance is its functional design: medical specialties were dispersed throughout the building and could be accessed easily, creating a system where patients could be moved quickly and doctors of different specialties could collaborate easily with one another. Today, the building houses administrative and academic offices and support services. The building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Avalon Music Centre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance to Jewish and African American history. The building was completed in 1919 and opened as the Northwestern Hotel in that year. Hotel operator Sam Sternberg and his family operated the Northwestern as a Kosher hotel for Jewish travelers and often housed guests that were visiting the nearby Mayo Clinic. In 1944, Vern manning purchased the building and changed the name of the hotel from the Northwestern Hotel to the Avalon Hotel. During these years, the hotel continued to be open to African Americans and others traveling to Rochester and was the site of several local incidents related to the civil rights movement. The building was later the site of a music studio and its name reflects both the history of the former Avalon Hotel and the former music studios.