Relax and enjoy this entertaining and informative tour featuring all of Rochester’s major historic, cultural, and architectural sites and attractions. Rochester and the “Blufflands” region boast a rich and fascinating Indian, pioneer, stagecoach, steamboat, and Civil War history. This tour offers an overview of Rochester’s fascinating medical history along with the famous Mayo family’s ties to pioneer, Civil War, and Minnesota history. By the end of this tour, you will know the inside story of Rochester’s amazing growth and transformation from a humble Midwestern farm town to world-famous mecca for the medical arts. We guarantee you will be surprised and delighted by the charm of Rochester’s many hidden scenic and cultural gems, as we focus on Rochester’s past, exciting present, and much-anticipated future Destination Medical Center (DMC) growth.
Dr. Charles H. Mayo, co-founder of the internationally renowned Mayo Clinic, met his eventual wife Edith Graham Mayo, a pioneering nurse anesthetist, as St. Marys Hospital opened in 1889, and together they created the Mayowood Estate just outside Rochester, Minnesota, between 1910 and 1939.
The centerpieces of the estate are the thirty-eight room Historic Mayowood Mansion, affectionately referred to as the “Big House” by the family, and surrounding ornamental and aquatic landscape gardens. The mansion itself is situated on a secluded hillside of striking natural beauty in the hardwood forest above the Zumbro River.
Dr Charlie and Edith built the Mayowood Mansion in 1911, and over the decades extended the estate’s reach to more than 3,000 acres that included a man-made recreational lake, greenhouses, cottages, and eight distinct working farm operations. Their eldest son, Dr. Charles W. (Chuck) Mayo and his wife, Alice, made many improvements to the home until their deaths in the late 1960s. Mayowood is filled with elegant furnishings, artifacts, and artwork from both generations’ extensive travels.
The mansion has largely been maintained as it was when last occupied by the Mayo family and is used to interpret the lives of this famous Twentieth Century medical family. Ownership of the Mayowood Mansion was transferred to Mayo Clinic in 2013. In a collaborative project, Mayo Clinic, the History Center of Olmsted County and Rochester Master Gardeners are restoring Mayowood with enhancements to the house and grounds that continue the Mayo family’s tradition of hospitality.
The mansion is still open to the public on scheduled tour days, from March through October . In November and December the house is elegantly and festively decorated for the holidays, and open to the public for annual Christmas tours.
Your group’s guided tour of this fascinating historical treasure — Rochester’s premier historic house tour — will last approximately one hour!